Overhead cranes are essential to many construction jobs. Cranes not only help to lift and transport materials, they also make construction jobs easier and safer.
Crane operators need to be well-trained before operating a crane. Further, cranes must be regularly inspected to ensure that they are in the proper working order. If either of these two things do not happen, lives and property are at risk.
While there are several ways accidents involving cranes can occur, and not every accident can be foreseen, there are three situations in which most crane accidents occur. These situations include electrical hazards, overloading and materials falling. Being aware of these three hazards can help to reduce the chance of any mishaps involving a crane from occurring.
- Electrical Hazards: Approximately half of overhead crane accidents occur when a crane comes into contact with a power source while being operated. Power line contact occurs when any metal part of a crane comes into contact with a high-voltage power line. This usually occurs when the crane is moving materials near or under power lines. Contrary to what many people believe, it is not just the crane operator who can be hurt or killed in this instance. People in the area also can be injured or killed.
- Overloading: When a crane carries more than its operational capacity, upsets and structural failures can occur. In fact, 80 percent of such upsets and failures occur when a crane is overloaded. Statistics show that one crane upset occurs for every 10,000 hours of crane use and most of these can be attributed to human error when an operator inadvertently exceeds the lifting capacity of the crane.
- Materials Falling: When materials are not properly secured on a crane, the load can slip, injuring or killing individuals in the area. Falling materials also can cause major property damage. Additionally, large and mobile cranes can cause materials to move, crushing worker who are rigging the materials. Almost 20 people are killed each year when material slings and attachments are not properly secured on the crane. Changing or reversing crane directions can cause heavy loads to spill so should be done with extreme care.
There are several other potential dangers when it comes to working with cranes so it is imperative that anyone working on or near cranes is well-trained. Especially important is that crane operators are well-qualified to do their job.