Avoid Crane Accidents

By: Michelle Tunquist

When a crane accident occurs, severe injury or death can occur.  The most recent statistics available on crane related deaths are from 2006.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2006 there were 72 crane related fatalities.  42 percent of those fatalities resulted from being struck by a falling object.  Cranes are large pieces of machinery that require proper setup and operation.  It is important to carefully plan projects in order to prevent accidents.

Crane Fatality Causes

In 2006 there were several types of crane accidents that resulted in fatalities. The chart below shows the different causes.  Information taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

These causes often result from the following:

  • Improper use of crane. Each crane has certain specifications and limits that should be carefully followed.  When the crane is used improperly, accidents can occur.  Be sure to follow load limits and use the crane the way it is made to be used.
  • Improper crane selected. There are a variety of crane types.  Make sure to use the right crane for the right job.  If you use the wrong crane, accidents can occur.
  • Inclement weather. Weather can cause problems. Rain, snow or fog can prevent operators from properly seeing the area.  Lighting can strike equipment and cause harm.  Ice can cause dangerous conditions.  Don’t let the desire to finish a job quickly cause you to operate cranes in bad weather.
  • Improper setup. Cranes must be set up properly to ensure safety.  Make sure that everyone setting up knows the proper way to set up the machinery.  Double check that the equipment is setup correctly.
  • Falling debris. Falling objects was the number one cause of fatalities in 2006.  Ensure that each load is properly secured before lifting.  Check for the possibility of debris falling when a load is moved.  Debris can fall from the surrounding area, so be sure to check the area carefully.
  • Hazardous conditions surrounding crane. Check the surrounding area.  Construction sites may have dangerous conditions.  Even if the crane is setup properly, the surrounding area could have hazards.

Prevent Accidents

Luckily, many accidents can be avoided by taking proper precautions.  Make sure to always:

  • Use certified operators. Proper training can prevent accidents.  When those operating the cranes know correct setup procedures and ways to avoid accidents, then the possibility of operator error diminishes.  Always use operators that have been properly trained and certified.
  • Follow proper setup procedures. Every crane has a guide for proper setup and use.  These procedures should be followed every time the crane is used, and shortcuts should never be taken.  Taking a shortcut to save a few minutes in setup could potentially cost you more than time.
  • Create a thorough lift plan.  Planning is essential for safety and the prevention of accidents.  Creating and following a thorough plan will minimize risk.  Create a plan, make sure everyone involved understands the plan and finally, follow the plan.

Safety Checklist

Just like taking the time to plan can minimize risk, taking a few minutes to prepare before setting up or using the crane can also minimize risk.  Creating and following a safety checklist can prevent possible problems.  Before you lift, take a few minutes to:

  • Check access to work area. Look to see how the equipment can be maneuvered into place.  Notice whether other people can access the area.  Make sure that only authorized personnel can access the site.
  • Check ground conditions. Check to see if the ground can bear the weight of the crane.  Ensure that it can be placed correctly and in a level position.  Look for any unsafe or uneven areas that could cause problems.
  • Check for overhead obstructions. Don’t forget to look up.  Since falling objects are a major cause for concern, check to see if anything up high is unstable.  Will the crane hit anything?
  • Know location of power lines. Extra caution should always be exercised around electricity.  Know where all power lines are located so that the crane does not hit anything dangerous.
  • Use adequate matting. Matting can be used to stabilize the crane. Use enough to get the job done right.
  • Confirm that outriggers are fully extended. Outriggers should always be fully extended.  Make sure that there is room for the outriggers when choosing the location for the crane.  The outriggers have an important job, but they won’t work correctly if they are not fully extended.
  • Double check crane configuration. Taking the time to double check the setup will potentially save you time and money in the long run.  Make sure it is done right the first time and avoid possible accidents or the need to do it again.
  • Confirm and compare load weight to chart.  Load weight charts are important for safety.  Don’t assume that the crane can bear the load, make sure to check and double check the chart.

Safety is Important to WM Services

WM Services always makes safety a priority.  All of our crane operators are fully trained and certified.  They know the proper setup and operation of each of our cranes.  Our engineers fully plan out every aspect when you rent one of our standard crane rentals.  When you rent from WM Services, you can rest assured that every precaution has been taken to avoid accidents.  Call today to learn about our fleet of cranes available for rental.

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