Keeping your construction area safe and free from accidents should be one of your top priorities. But those sites that use a crane need special attention. Here are three ways to minimize risk and maximize safety when it comes to your employees and meeting your construction goals.
Checking all the parts of your crane, as well as the surrounding environment, should become a regular occurrence. Depending on the manufacturer's specifications and how often you use your equipment, you'll need to do an inspection anywhere from daily to twice a year. When this is overlooked, you're facing possible breakdowns, falling loads, and failed breaks, among other issues.
OSHA has outlined some general rules regarding inspections, and it's a good idea to have a qualified safety team on staff to complete them as needed. Also, when daily inspections are required, they should be completed at the start of every shift. So you could be doing more than one per day.
What will you be looking for? Your checklist should include but not be limited to the following:
- Check for cracks in the sheaves, drums, gears, rollers, pins, bearings, rope wire, or clamping devices.
- The wire rope should be correctly seated in the drum grooves.
- Check that all contact points around the load chain are not excessively worn.
- Inspect for oil leaks, and ensure all the breaks are working properly.
- Observe the surrounding area for any obstructions.
According to the NCCCO (National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators), not all cities or states require licensure to operate a crane, but if you want to ensure a safe environment, consider requiring a CCO certification, even if it's not mandated in your locale. The CCO program came about in 1999 with the hopes of reducing fatalities by 15% over the next three years, and since then it has been shown to be effective.
Due to the fact that not all states require particular training or testing procedures, having a license doesn't guarantee adequate crane-operating skills. Those that successfully complete the CCO certification program, however, have proven themselves capable through both written and hands-on testing, and they agree to comply with a code of ethics and substance abuse policy as governed by the NCCCO. CCO certification can bring you and your employees peace of mind around the workplace.
Your staff is likely exposed to all kinds of extremes when it comes to the weather. And while you probably appreciate the commitment from your crew to work hard under any conditions, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to Mother Nature and cranes.
First of all, familiarize yourself with your crane's maximum wind speed. As you know, the higher the jib, the more likely you are to experience an overturned crane when the winds are high. This is due to multiple factors, including surrounding buildings and hills that can increase the wind speed at greater heights. Many cranes are set at national standards that range from 31-64 mph, depending on the type of crane you have. But most crane operators won't work in wind speeds greater than 20 mph, particularly those along the coast where winds can change drastically in a matter of seconds.
Secondly, the temperature outside should always be an important consideration when it comes to safe crane operations. Anything at or below freezing (0 degrees Celsius) will begin to adversely affect the way your crane operates. Ice can build up on the machinery parts, and the ability to hold large loads declines. If you absolutely must work in these conditions, the weight of the load should be reduced by at least 25% with a 40% reduction when temps are between -22 and -40 F (-30 and -40 degrees Celsius).
Those who live in the far north and who are regularly exposed to these temperatures during a large part of the year should look into special materials like cold-weather finishes, enclosed track systems that insulate the moving parts of the crane, and conductor bars that prevent ice buildup.
For more information, contact a company like Winslow Crane Service Co.