Crane Safety in Hazardous Winds

There are many different types of cranes on construction sites, all with specific manufacturer safety specifications. However, in light of the tragic crane accident in Seattle recently, it is worth reviewing some fundamental safety measures and regulations.

Crane operators must now be certified or licensed and receive ongoing training to operate new equipment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 220 total crane-related deaths from 2011 to 2015, an average of 44 per year over this 5-year period.

Wind is, of course, a natural hazard when it comes to this machinery. OSHA states that since 1983, each rail-mounted bridge and portal crane located outside of an enclosed structure shall be fitted with an operable wind-indicating device. The wind indicating device shall provide a visible or audible warning to alert the operator of high wind conditions. That warning shall be transmitted whenever the following circumstances are present:

  • Wind must not exceed the speed recommended by the manufacturer or, where manufacturer does not specify this information, the speed determined by a qualified person.
  • When wind velocity reaches the shutdown speed, not exceeding the crane manufacturer’s recommendations, work is to be stopped and the crane secured. The employer shall post operating instructions for high wind conditions in the operator’s cab of each crane. The instructions shall include procedures for responding to high wind alerts and for any coordination necessary with other cranes.

When the wind reaches the crane’s warning speed:

  • Gantry travel shall be stopped and the crane shall be readied for shutdown. When the wind reaches the crane’s shutdown speed:
    Any portion of the crane spanning or partially spanning a vessel shall be moved clear of the vessel if safe to do so; and the crane shall be secured against travel, using all available means of securing.
  • A registered professional engineer should verify that the host structure is strong enough to sustain the forces imposed through the braces, brace anchorages and supporting floors.
  • When employees may be in the vicinity of the tracks, crane trucks shall be equipped with personnel-deflecting guards.
  • Pedestrian clearance. If the track area is used for employee passage or for work, a minimum clearance of three feet shall be provided between trucks or the structures of rail-mounted cranes and any other structure or obstruction. When the required clearance is not available on at least one side of the crane’s trucks, the area shall not be used and shall be marked and identified.
  • Warning devices. Rail-mounted cranes shall be equipped with an effective travel warning device which shall be used to warn employees who may be in the path of the moving crane.

OSHA’s Subpart CC of 29 CFR Part 1926 (1926.1400), Cranes and Derricks in Construction, applies to cranes and derricks when used in construction activities.

For more safety information for your construction project, contact our offices at Diversified Safety Services.





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