Cranes are an essential part of the modern building and development scene. Unfortunately, improper use of cranes can lead to problems and result in severe injury or even a workplace fatality. For this reason, it is important to be aware of hazards and best practices. It’s also essential to know how to react in the event of an accident.

Crane Hazards

Being aware of crane hazards reduces the risk of potential danger in the workplace. Some common crane hazards include electrical hazards, materials falling, overloading a crane, crane movement (pinch points) and dropped loads. Operators, foremen and other adjacent site workers should all be aware of an operating crane. Supervisors and operators especially are responsible for everyone else on the site and must continually assess the safety of the crane operation and take every precaution available to protect against potential hazards.

What to Do If an Accident Occurs

If an accident does occur, there are immediate steps to take. Supervisors should quickly determine what type of accident occurred and whether there is an ongoing danger, such as live wires or potential structural collapse from a crane impact. If there are no immediate secondary problems, first aid should be applied to any victims as rapidly as possible. There should always be first-aid trained staff members on-site to provide immediate assistance. Alerting authorities, such as EMT, fire or police crews, should be done quickly. Then, attend to secondary needs, such as contacting the local electric company, as needed. Finally, filling out the proper legal documentation is important for all parties.

Best Practices

Accidents are often the result of improper procedures or a lack of attention to detail. In some countries, governmental organizations, such as OSHA in the United States, provide guidelines and recommendations. Only a trained and certified operator should actually operate the crane. Cranes should always be inspected before every use for damage or signs of problems. Cranes must be used only on level surfaces and have outrigger arms deployed for balance. The path, or swing, of the boom and load should be assessed for wires, structures or pathing over workers, and workers should never be under a load. Loads should always be inspected for weight and balance.

All heavy machinery carries inherent risks. There is no good workplace accident, especially when such machines are in use. It is only through careful risk assessment and following rules and best practices that cranes can be used in a safe manner.

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