Crane Safety Myths: Determining Fact From Fiction

Working in the field of construction is no easy task. Not only do you often work long hours, you also work around a lot of heavy machinery. Failure to operate machinery in the way it is intended can pose significant risks to you and your co-workers. Fortunately, there are ways to separate myth from fact when it comes to the safe operation of overhead cranes.

Myth #1: I can use an overhead crane for side pulling jobs as long is as the weight of the load is under capacity.

FACT: Approximately 90% of all crane accidents are the result of human error. One error that can prove dangerous, or even fatal, is believing that you can pull off a side pulling job. Overhead cranes have the capability of going up or down rather than side-to-side. You cannot remove a piece of steel from an area that is to the left or right of the machine.

Side pulling accounts for one of the top thirteen causes of injury and death among crane operators. When you operate an overhead crane, make sure you only lift loads in a horizontal fashion rather than vertically. No matter the length of the rope or chain you use on the crane, it is not designed for vertical pulls. If you fail to adhere to the horizontal pull design of the crane, you may risk losing your job or worse.

Myth #2: It is okay to exceed the operational capacity of the crane by just a little.

FACT: Manufacturers specify the operational capacity of cranes for a reason, and it is not so you can ignore those limitations. Lifting more than the recommended capacity can damage the equipment and lead to serious injury or death. In fact, approximately 80% of all crane accidents occur because the operator exceeded the operational limits of the crane.

Make sure you know exactly how much a load weighs before you attempt to lift it with an overhead crane. Exceeding the weight limit, even by a little, can have detrimental results to your health and safety, as well as the health and safety of others. The crane may tip, causing injury to workers below. The swing arm may suddenly detach, causing it to fall and cause damage to the construction site.

Myth #3: It doesn't matter if I use the primary or secondary brake on the overhead crane.

FACT: All cranes have a primary and secondary brake. Should you experience a power failure or failure of the primary brake, the secondary brake will engage to hold the load until you can restore power. Although the secondary brake is a safety feature, you should never assume that it is enough to hold up a heavy load.

The secondary brake is comparable to the emergency brake in your vehicle. You would not normally use the emergency brake unless necessary. Do not apply the secondary brake unless the situation requires its use. Relying primarily on the secondary brake can cause serious injury. Make sure you only use the primary brake when operating the crane unless the primary brake happens to fail

For best results, it is important that you refer to the manual provided by the crane manufacturer so you can familiarize yourself with operational safety. If you are unsure whether your crane can handle a specific weight, or you find the manual unclear, contact the manufacturer for assistance.

Should the overhead crane experience any mechanical malfunctions, you will need to contact a professional for help. Mechanical failures can also lead to serious injury or death. If a mechanical failure occurs, cease all crane operations immediately and wait for a professional to address the problem. And remember, understanding the difference between safety myths and facts can protect you and your co-workers from possible injury or death.

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