Published December 15th, 2020
What is Crane Safety?
Crane safety is the practice of ensuring a safe working environment for workers and visitors when operating a crane on the worksite. Performing regular crane inspections can help promote crane safety as it can proactively identify risks and hazards that can cause crane accidents and fatalities.
In this article will briefly answer the following questions:
- What is a crane inspection?
- What are the different types of crane inspections that should be performed?
- What are the common types of crane accidents avoided with regular inspections?
- What tools and resources can help in effectively performing a crane inspection?
A crane inspection is used for keeping cranes in peak operating condition and ensuring the safety of workers and bystanders. Performing regular crane inspections not only complies with legal regulations and standards like OSHA Standard 1910.179, it also mitigates the risk of costly fines, repairs, and workplace incidents associated with crane usage.
According to the Crane Manufacturers Association of America (CMAA), it is best practice to have only experienced and trained individuals conduct the inspection. Crane inspectors are expected to have formal training in the following:
- Safety and design codes related to overhead cranes
- Federal, state, and local codes and standards
- Safe operating practices of cranes and hoists
- Proper documentation procedures
- Crane and hoist terminologies
Multiple hazards can arise when using large lift systems such as cranes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the year 2006 there was a record of over 72 fatalities in the US caused by crane accidents. Crane accidents can be caused by poor training, ignoring crane weight limits, rushed construction jobs, and improper maintenance.
Below are 3 of the common crane accidents that are avoided when identified early during the inspection:
Falling materials or loads are a major concern when using overhead cranes. They not only result in structural damage but also injury, or worse, death. Falling loads can be caused by various factors such as operator incompetency, two-blocking, slipping, mechanical failures and visual impairment. To mitigate risks of falling materials, maintenance supervisors or plant managers should observe the following:
- Perform regular crane inspections or maintenance checks.
- Have employees wear proper PPE
- Ensure operator operating cranes are well-trained and competent
- Install safety precaution signs
When operating cranes, there is also a risk of it becoming in contact with power sources. Seeing as the crane is mostly made of metal, there is risk of electrocuting all workers in the vicinity. Crane accidents caused by electrical hazards can be avoided if safety protocols and preventative measures are in place. Crane operators should be well informed of potential danger zones and the proper work practices in working near power lines or any exposed energized area. Clearly mark danger zones with barriers, fences, or tape.
This occurs when crane’s weight limits are ignored. Exceeding the crane’s operational capacity can put the crane mechanism to stress and lead to irreversible damage that can be quite costly. Most commonly, overloading is due to human error. Specifically when operator’s heavily rely on their instinct in determining whether a load is too heavy for the crane. To prevent this from occurring, ensure that the operator is competent and has a clear understanding of load dynamics, lifting capacities, and safety protocols.
According to OSHA, ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers), and CMAA standards, maintenance supervisors or plant managers are required to perform three different types of inspections throughout the lifetime of crane equipment.
- Initial Inspection
OSHA Standard 1910.179 requires all new and altered cranes to be inspected prior to initial use. Appointed or authorized personnel will conduct an inspection on the crane’s components to check its installation and functions.
- Frequent Inspection
This is done through visual and operational inspection which is performed on a monthly or weekly basis, depending on usage of crane. Frequent inspections involve checking of hoist brake, wire rope, load chain, and the hook and latch to see if there are any abnormal sounds or damage in the mechanisms.
- Periodic Inspection
Like frequent inspections, the frequency of conducting periodic inspections depends on the usage of the crane. Cranes not used in more than a month but used within the last six months will be required to undergo a periodic functional test inspection prior to its next use. Periodic inspections entail checking for the following:
- Deformed, cracked, or corroded members
- Loose bolts or rivets
- Cracked or worn sheaves and drums
- Worn, cracked, or distorted parts such as pins, bearings, shafts, gears, rollers, and locking and camping devices
- Excessive wear on brake system parts, linings, pawls, and ratchets
- Load, wind, and other indicators over their full range, for any significant inaccuracies
- Gasoline, diesel, electric, or other power plants for improper performance or noncompliance with applicable safety requirements
- Excessive wear of chain drive sprockets and excessive chain stretch
- Electrical apparatus and signs of pitting or any deterioration of controller contractors, limit switches, and push-button stations
Make crane inspections easy with a digital tool. iAuditor by SafetyCulture allows you to perform inspections on your mobile or tablet device. Keep compliant and stay on track of crane conditions with a digital solution that lets you achieve the following:
- Conduct crane inspections using easy-to-build inspection templates that you can use and customize
- Identify damages, hazards, or problem areas and provide supporting photo evidence
- Be proactive and assign corrective actions to areas that need urgent repairs
- Never miss out on inspections with iAuditor’s scheduling feature
- Save time from manual reports and automatically get comprehensive reports after completing an inspection
- Instantly share your reports with multiple recipients in just a tap of a finger
- Get operational insights on your crane mechanisms with analytics data provided by the iAuditor web app
To help you get started, we’ve prepared a free collection of best practice crane inspection checklists below. Use and customize them for your specific cranes and worksite.
Featured Crane Inspection Checklists
Tower Crane Inspection Checklist (Daily)
Use this daily crane inspection checklist template to inspect a tower crane before, during and after operational shifts. Begin by conducting pre-operation checks by recording work permits issued, evaluate operator’s competency and check emergency controls. Next, inspect the components of the crane by capturing photo defects and observe if safety measures were applied. Lastly, assess the post job operation to ensure that the crane is safely unattended. Provide final recommendations during the end of shift to improve crane safety.
Overhead Crane Pre-task Inspection Checklist
This template can be used by operators to conduct daily safety checks for overhead cranes prior to use at the beginning of each shift. Begin by conducting basic safety checks before touching the controls. Then conduct equipment checks for the bridge, hoist, trolley and runways to ensure there are no loose, broken or damaged parts. Next conduct safety checks for attaching and moving loads. Finally provide any observations or recommendations that should be reported to the next operator or safety official.
Crane Maintenance Checklist (Monthly)
This crane maintenance checklist is used for monthly maintenance checks of overhead cranes. Ratchet and electric chain hoists need to be inspected monthly to ensure better crane performance. Use this template to perform a detailed equipment evaluation for overhead cranes, capture photos of defects and notify persons in-charge for immediate resolution.
OSHA Crane Inspection Checklist
This OSHA crane inspection checklist inspects overhead and gantry cranes and is used to ensure that crane operators comply with mandated safety regulation by OSHA. Download and use this checklist to conduct thorough checks of the crane equipment and its electrical connections. This will also cover testing and the maintenance of cranes before using it.