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Crane Safety Reminders

All Things Runnion
March 2, 2021

Many contractors realize the advantage of owning or renting boom-truck cranes because of the flexibility of having the crane available on multiple job sites throughout the day. A roofing contractor, for example, can make morning deliveries of roofing materials and safety equipment can then be using the crane for roof tear-offs in the afternoon. Depending on the day and size of the tear-off jobs, that crane can turn around and be delivering materials in the evening to have jobs ready to go the when crews arrive the next morning.

With the crane moving from jobsite to jobsite and setting up multiple times a day, there are several key safety related issues unique to boom trucks that your driver/operator and crew foremen need to be concerned with:

  1. PLAN YOUR ROUTE – While driving to a jobsite, a driver should be constantly aware of low clearances, particularly bridges. Your State Dept. of Transportation website is a source of information for vertical height restrictions and cell phone apps such as SmartTruckRoute and BridgeBypass will do the hard work for you.
  2. IDENTIFY OVERHEAD RESTRICTIONS – Once on the job, the operator has to look up and identify any overhead obstacles that might have an effect on the lifts. One example an operator needs to be keenly aware of is power lines. The closest any part of the crane should get to any powerline under 350 kV is 20 feet. On a National Crane with a RCL computer, an operator can program the crane to alert them as they approach a pre-determined point such as power lines. If the crane will have to operate closer than 20 feet, OSHA 1926.1407 outlines the steps to take.
  3. ESTABLISH THE WORK ZONE – It is important to identify the crane’s safe working area on the ground. OSHA recommends establishing the work zone by utilizing flags, barriers, tape, etc., in order to prevent non-authorized people from entering the crane zone. While OSHA 1926.1424 does not define an actual perimeter, NCCCO recommends a minimum of 10 feet.
  4. CHECK THE LIFTING EQUIPMENT – Even before the first pick is made, the crane operator needs to ensure their lifting equipment such as the wire rope, slings, rigging, and hook is safe to use. A competent person needs to check the wire rope on a daily and monthly basis and ensure that it is free of kinks, bird caging, or excessive broken wires (documentation of the monthly inspection is required). The hooks must be equipped with a working latch and the ID tags on the hook and straps must be legible. If lifting straps are damaged in any way, they must be taken out of service (OSHA 1910.184)
  5. CHECK GROUND CONDITIONS – The controlling entity of the jobsite is responsible to inform the crane operator of the location of hazards beneath the equipment set-up area (such as voids, tanks, utilities) (OSHA 1926.1402). Ultimately, however, the crane operator must examine the ground conditions and determine if the ground can withstand the pressure exerted by the crane’s outriggers in order to prevent the crane from sinking into the ground. Always carry a good set of outrigger pads onboard to help spread the load across a greater area – and use them. The time and money saved by operating a boom truck over the course of the year can be significant. Keep in mind however that those savings can quickly evaporate if the crane is used improperly and “safety first” is not appropriately factored in. Crane safety starts even before the first pick is made!

Runnion Equipment Company partners with many CRCA members during the year to help educate roofing contractor employees on more in-depth information about operator’s responsibilities and how to ensure a safer job site when using cranes.