Understanding the Major Hazards in Crane Operation and How to Reduce the Risk of Accidents

Why Meeting Crane Operation Safety Standards Is So Important

Cranes are relied upon by many construction and manufacturing companies worldwide for lifting and transporting materials. When installed, used, and maintained correctly and when crane safety standards are met, cranes make such processes safer and more efficient.

However, crane accidents occur every year, causing injuries and fatalities to workers and passersby alike. Preventing crane-related tragedies can often be avoided by ensuring crane operators receive sufficient training and that cranes are maintained according to industry standards.

What’s more, fully understanding and recognising the main hazards in crane operation and ensuring crane safety standards are understood, followed, and practised is crucial to lowering the risk of future incidents.

But what are the most common hazards in crane operation, and what safety measures can construction sites implement to prevent these hazards from occurring?

Electrical Hazards and Other Obstacles

One of the most common hazards in crane operation is electrocution from overhead power lines. In fact, almost 45 percent of all crane-related accidents are caused by contact with a power source.

Since cranes often operate at great heights, they’re put in the perfect position for potential contact with power sources and other obstacles. In addition, the metal in the crane is an excellent conductor and can cause fatal electrocution to not just the crane operator but to the workers on the ground.

The crane operator and workers in the basket must remain watchful of all electrical overhead lines at all times. Ideally, the power to any electrical lines in the vicinity should be shut off before any work begins.

Inadequate Training

Adequate training teaches the crane operator about loads and capacities and what appropriate crane inspection and maintenance looks like. It also explains safety measures such as maintaining a safe operating distance, not hoisting a load and people simultaneously, or lifting a load that exceeds the approved capacity.

Crane operators, and those working around them, should be taught about the most common hazards in crane operation as being aware of the risks will help ensure that everyone keeps their minds on safety in crane operation and avoids hazards wherever possible.

Falls, Collapses, and Overturns

Falling, collapsing, or overturning cranes are often caused by exceeding the load guidelines or incorrect loading. In addition, adverse weather conditions such as high wind can also cause a crane to fall or overturn.

To ensure safety in crane operation, the maximum load capacity should be adhered to and never exceeded, as these weight limits are there to ensure that the cranes don’t tip over.

To counterbalance the weight of the load, cranes also use counterweight and out-rigging systems but surpassing the load limitations can still cause the boom to collapse or the crane to tip over.

Proper load placement is also crucial, all loads should be centred, and slings should be used to secure the load. If the load is likely to rotate or swing, taglines should also be used.

Dropped Loads

More often than not, the leading causes of a crane dropping its load are overloading and when a load is not adequately secured. If a crane drops its load, everything underneath, such as people, structures, and vehicles, will be crushed. Therefore, nobody should ever work directly under a crane load, even when wearing PPE.

The crane operator cannot always see the load, as it is often out of their sightline. By strategically placing cameras on the crane, the crane operator can increase their field of vision to see every part of the lift (including the loading.) In addition, thanks to the cameras, which feed straight to a monitor within the cab, the crane operator can view the load from the cab directly.

The crane operator can also view the in-cab monitor to ensure that the riggers and spotters properly secure the load. A load that hasn’t been secured properly is also a risk factor for a crane dropping its load. Falling materials not only cause injuries and fatalities they also cost time and money.

Crane Movement (Pinch Points)

Cranes usually must move or rotate to transport the load to its destination. Unfortunately, this movement can create a pinch point or crush point where someone could be seriously hurt.

What’s more, the area directly around the crane is generally not in the crane operator’s line of sight, thus making this hazard even more dangerous.

Pinch points injuries can occur any time during the movement of material, gear, or loads. Workers must be aware of pinch points between the sling and the load, between the load and a fixed object, and between the load and its resting point.

Poor or Rushed Crane Inspections

Employers hurrying to get a construction project finished may encourage fast and careless inspections of their cranes. However, meticulous checks are essential to preventing crane accidents. Inspectors must confirm the crane is genuinely safe before clearing it to be used.

Choosing the Best Crane Hire Services for Your Needs

When choosing crane hire services for your project, safety is paramount. With an outstanding reputation of over 25 years, Emerson, the trusted lifting experts, are committed to safety and efficiency while providing a truly bespoke solution.

For further information, please get in touch via the contact form or by phone on 020 8059 2546.