OSHA Edicts on Cranes, Derricks, and Slings

Yesterday we looked at the special dangers and safety precautions needed when working with such heavy-duty material movers as conveyors and powered industrial trucks. Today we turn to the topic of working safely with and around cranes, derricks, and slings.

Cranes and derricks play an important role in lifting and transporting heavy loads, but they also have the potential for causing serious injuries and damage to property.  Crane and derrick operators must be specially trained for their jobs and observe very strict procedures for safe operation. Other employees whose jobs involve working with or around cranes need to understand the hazards, the importance of observing all safety rules, and the purpose of required inspections of parts and equipment.

The safe operation of cranes, hoists, and derricks is covered in 1910.179-182 and in Subpart N of CFR 1926. Maintenance and operating procedures must be carefully followed. They include:

  • Perform prescribed inspection of lifting equipment on a regular schedule—some inspections must be made daily.
  • Take any equipment with one or more defective parts out of service, not to be used until it has been repaired.
  • Never overload; the rated capacity (which should be posted on the equipment) should never be exceeded.
  • Understand the nature—not only weight but size and shape—of the load so that proper slings will be used.
  • Make sure that the operator of the machine and the person hooking on the load are in agreement as to proper signals and where the load is to go. (This is because often the operator cannot see the material or equipment being handled.)
  • Make sure there are no obstructions in the path of the swing.
  • Never allow employees to work beneath the area where materials are being loaded or unloaded, or beneath the path of the swing.

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What OSHA Requires

OSHA restricts the operation of cranes and derricks to designated personnel who have undergone special training. Training requirements for operators also includes:

  • How to operate fire extinguishers provided with the cranes
  • How to perform side pulls and operate when two cranes are lifting together

BLR’s OSHA Training System notes that a competent person must inspect slings each day before use. Generally, employees who are not trained operators but who are otherwise involved with cranes, derricks, and slings should be familiar with load limits, inspections, characteristics of different types of slings, and basic guidelines for operating safety.

Hazards of Cranes and Derricks

The hazards of cranes and derricks include:

  • Dropping a load, which can occur if:

    • A cable, hook, or sling is overloaded.
    • Equipment is not in good condition, worn out, or overstressed.

  • Hitting someone or an object with the load, which can occur if:

    • Operator is careless or vision is obstructed.
    • People fail to stay out of the way of crane operations.

  • The potential for serious injury or death from being hit by a heavy load or crane part.
  • The potential for serious property damage from dropping a load or hitting something.

Basic Rules for Safety Around Cranes and Derricks

  • Never operate a crane or derrick unless specially trained and authorized.
  • Be familiar with and strictly follow safe operating procedures.
  • Follow all instructions and warnings from operators and signalers without question.
  • Never walk under an overhead load.
  • Never allow a crane, derrick, or sling to become overloaded.

Avoiding Overloading

  • The RATED CAPACITY is the amount of weight the equipment can handle safely.
  • Rated capacity of cranes and derricks must be plainly marked and visible from the ground.
  • Slings also have rated capacities that must be marked.

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Inspection of Cranes and Slings

OSHA specifies the following equipment inspection requirements:

  • Inspect daily for hooks, some operating mechanisms, air or hydraulic lines, hoist chain, slings.
  • Inspect at least monthly for ropes, chains, all operating mechanisms.
  • Inspect at least annually for corroded structural members, loose bolts, damaged fasteners and gears, electrical equipment.
  • Only trained employees can perform inspections.
  • Records must be kept of inspections.
  • Damaged parts, slings, etc., should be replaced, not re-used.

In addition, slings must be kept in safe working condition:

  • Alloy chain slings can’t have cracks, deformities, or twists.
  • Wire rope slings can’t be corroded or excessively worn.
  • Metal mesh slings can’t be corroded or abraded.
  • Fiber rope slings should not be worn, dried out, or have broken strands.

These are just a few of the training tips provided in the OSHA Training System lesson plan for “Working Safely with Cranes, Derricks, and Slings.”
As its name implies, this is a complete system to meet your full training needs. All the materials are prepared in advance, so no prep time is required. All you do is reproduce what you need and put it to use. Materials include:

  • 32 complete safety units, meeting every key OSHA standard. Each includes full background for trainers, a ready-to-use safety meeting, and follow-up handouts.  View a table of contents.
  • Quizzes, handouts, and copies of 27 different employee booklets, coordinated to the safety meetings. (Booklets can be bought in any quantity at a discount.)
  • A complete training recordkeeping and tracking system that tells you which employees need what training, and then tracks your program to ensure they get it.
  • Quarterly updates, which are included with the program. You receive at least four new safety units every 90 days, covering new OSHA standards and training needs.

If you share the common problem of never having enough time or the right materials for training, we’d suggest you examine the OSHA Training System program. We’ve arranged for you to do so for up to 30 days at no cost or risk. Just let us know, and we’ll be happy to make all the arrangements.

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