Crane Safety for Construction Sites

crane2Moving large, heavy loads is a fundamental activity on most construction sites. There are significant safety issues to be considered, both for the operators of the lifting devices, and for workers in proximity to them.

Importantly, employers must ensure that equipment operators are competent through training and experience to operate the equipment. If an employee assigned to operate a crane does not have the required ability to operate the equipment safely, the employer must train that employee before allowing him or her to operate the equipment and must evaluate the operator to confirm that he/she understands the information provided in the training.

How does one go about making sure that crane operators are certified? While the deadline for crane operator certification has been extended to November 10, 2017, under the current cranes standard, operator certification testing bodies must be accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency. Currently the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) are the two organizations that OSHA has identified as nationally recognized accrediting agencies. Construction managers should also investigate whether their state safety agencies have different or more specific standards.

OSHA has an extensive checklist for Crane and Derrick safety that includes:

  • Determine the adequacy of ground conditions beneath the equipment set-up area such as the support/foundation, matting, cribbing and blocking.
  • Check for visible indications of repairs of the equipment.
  • When overhead power lines are on the construction site, ask if the utility owner/operator was contacted and if the lines are energized. Obtain the voltage of the power lines (if known). Verify whether a work zone around the crane was demarcated and what encroachment prevention steps are being used.
  • When a signal person is used on the worksite, verify the individual’s qualifications/documentation. Acceptable documents include both physical and electronic records.
  • Verify that the communication system being used by the crane operator and the signal person is the one specified on the signal person’s qualification documentation.

OSHA is working on proposed amendments to address some other issues in the cranes standard, including clarifying the scope of what forklifts and multi-purpose equipment are included in and excluded from the cranes standard.

In general the crane standard applies to actual construction work and not, in most cases, delivering materials to a construction site from a flatbed to the ground. This is considered a “general industry” activity covered by 29 CFR Part 1910.

For more information about keeping your worksite compliant and safe, contact our offices at Diversified Safety Services.

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Nina McGinley

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