Crane accidents are a leading cause of injury and death in today's construction industry. Many of these accidents could have been prevented with proper foresight. Following are six common causes of crane accidents and what you can do to minimize them among your workforce.
Overextending the Crane Boom
Overextending the crane boom can potentially throw the entire machine off-balance. This typically occurs with weighty objects that can be safely lifted by a short boom but cause instability when the boom is lengthened.This causes substantial pressure on the hydraulic and mechanical components of the crane -- in the worst case scenario, the boom will collapse, putting the operator at extreme risk of injury as well as endangering the lives of other workers and any bystanders who happen to be in the area. The manufacturer's specification will clearly state the limits of the crane's operational capacity, and operators must take care to stay within these.
Overloading the crane box is another common reason for on-the-job accidents and injuries on construction sites. This involves simply trying to lift more weight than what the machine is designed to hold regardless of boom length. Never try to lift more with a crane than the manufacturer's specification state, and always make sure that the operators weigh items of questionable weight before attempting to lift them with the crane.
Dropping loads is another dangerous condition that can happen for several reasons. Although weight plays a part in some instances of dropped loads, other factors usually enter into play. Equipment failure and miscalculation on the part of the operator are the most common ones. Heavy objects must be properly balanced for optimal safety. Dropping loads frequently result in the entire crane tipping over as a result of an imbalance in the machine's center of gravity.
Contact With Overhead Power Lines
This is one of the most dangerous situations of all faced by those who operate cranes. Contact with overhead power lines can cause serious injury and often results in death. Operators should always be aware of the distance between the boom and any high-voltage power lines in the area. Working in high wind conditions is also not advised due to the dangers of power line blowdown.
Boom Cable Failures
The cables should be checked each morning before the operator takes a seat in the cab and begins the job at hand. Cables can become frayed to the point where they pose serious risks of failure. Unfortunately, vandalism is frequently a problem on many modern construction sites, and cables are sometimes cut by those seeking to do mischief. Operators should also be well-trained in identifying a boom cable failure at the moment it starts to happen and in safety procedures that minimize the damage.
Improperly Trained Operators
Workers who haven't been thoroughly trained in proper operating procedures pose a significant risk not only to themselves, but to others in the vicinity. The most common problem involving untrained operators is crane tip-over. Cranes can become unbalanced rather easily, particularly if the boom is being rapidly moved at varying angles. The ground on construction sites is rarely completely level and can include soft areas filled with mud that sometimes act like mini-sinkholes, contributing further to the general instability of the ground.
Keep in mind that your best defense against job site injuries and deaths is a well-trained work force. Initial and ongoing safety training and crane inspections are important aspects of maintaining a safe working environment. Don't hesitate to reach out to training or inspection companies if you're concerned about your workers, and don't hire contract workers who are not properly trained.