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Safety Tips | Machinery

Cranes: Minimize the risks

January 1, 2011

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Working with cranes can be very dangerous if time is not taken to carefully inspect equipment and follow safety guidelines. Most crane-related injuries occur when a worker is struck by an overhead load or when the boom comes into contact with an overhead power line. OSHA offers the following suggestions to minimize the risk of injury when working with cranes:

  • Only allow properly trained and qualified operators to work with cranes.
  • Check all controls to ensure proper operation before use. 
  • Inspect ropes, chains and hooks for any damage.
  • Remove worn materials from service.
  • Ensure crane platforms and walkways have anti-skid surfaces, and guardrails, handholds and steps allow safe access to and from all areas of the crane. 
  • Know the weight of the load the crane is meant to lift, and ensure the load does not exceed the crane’s capacity. Load capabilities, operating speed and instructions should be posted and visible to the operator. 
  • Illustrations of hand signals should be posted at the jobsite. 
  • Raise the load a few inches to verify balance before lifting it all the way. 
  • Test the effectiveness of the brake system.
  • Fully extend outriggers. 
  • Never move a load over other workers on the floor. 
  • Barricade access to areas within the crane’s swing radius. 
  • Watch for overhead electrical wires and maintain a clearance of at least 10 feet.


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