How to prevent cranes overturning

September 16th, 2011

Cranes are the cause of hundreds of accidents in the workplace each year, but working safely with mobile cranes is easier than you might think. Anyone working with cranes needs to take safety precautions before, during and after the operation of cranes to ensure risks are kept to a minimum.

First things first
Ensure the crane is set up correctly with adequate counter weights and positioned so that the lift is not excessive, which could cause the crane to overturn. Use the load chart to check the load is in proportion to the crane type, and err on the side of caution if the crane appears overloaded. Now look down – is the surface adequate to support the crane? What are the weather conditions like? Heavy rain and strong winds are a common cause of crane accidents so avoid crane work in these conditions. Remove any obstructions from the path of the crane or the lifting trajectory, prior to beginning the task.

Check the driver has all relevant training and experience to use a particular type of crane to safely complete the task. Thorough risk assessments must be conducted in the workplace prior to any crane activity, in order to identify risks and either eliminate or control the hazard. A copy of the risk management procedures should be kept on site, and all procedures should be supervised.

Up, up and away
If the load pick-up and placement locations require travelling once the crane is loaded, always move with the load facing downhill. If the wind picks up at any point during work, stop until conditions ease. Conducting a trial lift without the load can be effective in testing the maximum radius for the lift, while a mini-lift with the load will indicate if the load capacity is correct.

A job well done
At the end of the shift, appropriate crane maintenance should be undertaken to ensure the safety of workers who use it next. Calibration of the load limiting/indicating system should be checked regularly as inaccurate readings of load weight can be misleading. Recording relevant information, such as incidents and task details, is essential to maintaining and improving the risk management plan for crane safety.

As legislation, technology and equipment are constantly changing, keeping up to date is essential. License renewals, new compulsory training courses and new legislation are crucial for running a safe workplace around cranes. Attention to detail and thorough procedures will ensure no mistakes are made when working with mobile cranes. While safe practice often takes longer, avoiding accidents can save your business vast amounts of time in court and thousands of dollars in fines.