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Lift with Confidence: Tips New Crane Operators Need to Know

James Lang
General Manger, Konecranes Training Institute

For new crane operators, the most fundamental piece of advice they should take is not to operate a crane until they have completed proper training that meets OSHA and ASME B30.2 requirements.

A study recently conducted by Konecranes using data from OSHA showed that about 70 percent of crane accidents in the United States are preventable if proper operation and crane safety is followed. Driving home the point, the study also found that 58 percent of the injuries and deaths from crane accidents involved the crane operators.

Before starting any work with cranes, new operators should complete a one-day class on crane operation and rigging. Following this, they should be trained on the specific equipment they will operate. After that, they should also be closely monitored on the job for the next few weeks.

Other essential crane safety advice for both new and experienced operators includes:
• Conduct a pre-operational inspection of your crane before each shift. This inspection needs to be done by someone trained in what to look for.
• Inspect the rigging gear. Roughly 27 percent of crane accidents in the study mentioned above involved load drops, of which 59 percent were attributed to a rigging problem.
• Check the upper limit switch at the start of each shift. When working properly, this switch stops the load block before it can pile into and damage the hoist, causing the load to drop.
• Know the location of the power disconnect switch for the runway. This is important because, if the crane continues down the runway after the operator releases the radio control button, the operator will be able to walk quickly to the switch to cut the power and prevent a runaway crane.
• Never get complacent or lax in following operating and crane safety procedures. Almost two-thirds of crane accidents, 74 percent, happen during routine operations.
• The most important advice of all – never stand under a load. According to the study, rougly 34 percent of crane accident fatalities and nearly 37 of crane accident injuries resulted from a load swing, load drop or unstable load. The chance that a load will fall might be one in 100,000 or one in 1 million, but that’s too much of a chance to take.

For information about the Konecranes Crane Operator and Safety Course and other crane safety courses, visit the Konecranes Training Institute website.