Despite the convenience cranes provide in lifting heavy construction materials, the employees who work with or around them are exposed to grave dangers. When a crane buckles or collapses, not only the workers operating the heavy equipment sustain injuries, but also those on the ground are exposed to danger.
Surveys have totaled 323 crane-related deaths in 307 crane incidents from 1992-2006. Most of these accidents happened when cranes collapsed, came in contact with the power lines, or buckled because proper instructions weren’t followed during assembly.
However, these are only some of the hazards associated with cranes, and in-depth knowledge of the subject can help supervisors make worksites safer for workers.
Here are a few common crane-related accidents that you should know about:
Crane Collapse Due to Improper Crane Assembly
Every piece of equipment comes with manufacturer’s specifications, which specify how it must be assembled or disassembled. Following instructions prevent accidents and ensure that operators don’t use it beyond its capacity.
Cranes are no different. Assembling or disassembling a crane is an incredibly complex process and even the best workers can find it daunting. Everything from human error to miscommunication between workers can cause a crane to collapse and risk injury to workers.
For example, improper blocking with metal or wood supports may cause loads to become unbalanced. This can result in the equipment to collapse on either the operator or the workers below the crane. To keep things safe, supervisors and crane operators must perform tests before and after operation to ensure stability while gauging the likelihood of accidents.
Overloading a crane beyond its capacity will eventually make the equipment tip over. However, this can also happen when loads are lighter. For example, a crane might tip over during operation on uneven ground. To alleviate safety concerns, workers must avoid overloading cranes and inspect the ground before commencing operations.
Crane Boom Collapse or Buckling
Extending a crane boom beyond its recommended capacity may affect its ability to carry loads. Carrying heavier loads, in this case, can become a bigger problem, since it can put a high amount of pressure on a crane’s hydraulic, mechanical, and structural components. This may cause the boom to collapse on workers below on the site. To ensure safety, stick to manufacturer’s guidelines during operations.
Contact with Overhead Power Lines
Cranes often have to be operated within the vicinity of power lines, exposing operators to a higher risk. For instance, consider how it’s sometimes incredibly difficult for operators to lift or move loads in areas which do not allow for a lot of maneuverability. Such situations can cause a crane to come into contact with nearby power lines and electrocute the operator.
To keep worksites safe for crane operators, both workers and crane operators should keep a lookout of where power lines are situated.
Even after a crane is inspected for operational efficiency, it can still pose a danger to workers. It might drop its load on workers within its swing radius. In part, accidents like these happen when the placement of loads is not communicated properly to crane operators, or when there is a lack of understanding of the center of gravity of a load.
Some of these accidents are completely avoidable if proper safety protocols are enforced and workers are properly trained in handling heavy equipment.
Employers can’t always prevent accidents from happening. However, they can reduce them or train workers on what to do in the event when one takes place. This can be achieved with:
- Proper Training: Some crane accidents are caused by human error. To reduce chances of accidents, employers should ensure that field supervisors have completed OSHA accepted safety courses, such as OSHA 30 hour training online.
- Frequent Inspections: Inspections should be vigilant and carried out in a timely manner by experienced inspectors. This will ensure that the machinery is safe to use and operates s at optimum efficiency. Frequent inspections also reduce the number of accidents often associated with faulty crane parts or improper assembly.
Ensuring workers’ safety should be the top priority of every organization, especially in the construction industry. By knowing about the common causes of crane-related accidents, management and supervisors can take effective measures to make sure that similar accidents don’t take place.