Top Three Safety Risks in Overhead Crane Operation

Because an overhead crane is a very rugged yet complicated apparatus, caution must be observed during their installation and operation. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that nearly 20 people die during overhead crane-related incidents. While this figure might seem low compared to previous decades, one should always aim for an accident-free workplace to prevent the possibility of lawsuits and unlawful death compensation.

While the complexity of today’s automated cranes presents many opportunities for failure, crane risk factors may be grouped into three main types:

1. Electrocution. The OSHA says that electrical contact accounts for over half of all incidents involving automated cranes. These incidents occur when an overhead crane accidentally touches a high-voltage power line, usually when the hoist is moving materials near a power source. While the operator is the one most at risk, everyone near the crane is also in danger of getting electrocuted. To prevent these accidents from happening, power to unrelated equipment should be turned off temporarily while a crane is being operated. If this solution is not possible, crane operation should be scheduled for times when the electrical line is not energized. The OSHA also recommends that the 10-foot radius around a power line be marked clearly so that insulating material could be installed.

2. Falling material. Any job site with automated cranes is considered a high-risk area for falling material. This type of accident occurs mostly when the cargo is not secured properly or if the hoist is not well-maintained. A frayed cable, for instance, can suddenly snap and send its cargo crashing down to the floor below, resulting in damage to equipment and facilities, injuries, and even death. Rigging should also be inspected regularly to ensure that they operate correctly. Overhead crane movements should also be slow and deliberate to keep the cable from jerking or bouncing, which could dislodge the materials carried.

3. Improper loading. The OSHA estimates that 80% of all overhead crane structural failures and collapses are the result of improper loading. When a crane is carrying a load that exceeds its operating capacity, it becomes susceptible to tensile or compressive stress that causes damage to the crane and its supporting structure. Other activities that contribute to structural stress in automated cranes include using defective parts, improper load handling, and side-loading. In addition, all workers should be trained on the proper loading and rigging of cranes and hoists using different configurations.

J.B.S. Cranes provides a variety of overhead crane services, such as installation, sales, and maintenance. For more information about our product line, call us at 800-942-JBSC (5272).