Learning is fun

April Safety Newsletter by Neil Savage

Towersource’s Safety Newsletter welcomes spring with an issue dedicated to one of humanity’s greatest achievements: the crane. Don’t miss the trivia question—you could snag some sweet prizes. [UPDATE: trivia contest is closed!]

No Crane, No Gain

If you don’t get into the field too often, then you may be surprised to know that many towers and rooftops require cranes. Yeah, no joke, it’s true; cranes make construction jobs much easier. Why are you looking confused like that? Oh, okay. No, not those birds with the goofy long legs. The construction equipment capable of lifting and lowering heavy materials. You know, the machines that have been around since Ancient Greece? See, the confusion comes because they both have the same name.

While cranes make the impossible possible, their hazards cause severe injuries and fatalities every year. Preventing these disasters requires operators and workers to maintain focus and follow safety protocol as they would around any heavy machinery.

The three common concerns most frequently associated with crane accidents are: overloading, electrical hazards, and materials falling from overhead hoists. One overlap between all three hazards is the qualifications of the crane operator. No variable is as important as assuring the crane operator/job supervisor is competent and qualified: no dummies allowed.

Overloading Can’t Be Overstated

Swinging or a sudden dropping of the load, using defective components, and hoisting a load beyond capacity can all cause overloading. According to OSHA (who knows these things well), 80 percent of all crane upsets and structural failures can be attributed to exceeding the crane’s operational capacity.

One overloading accident occurs for every 10,000 hours of crane use, and nearly all of these upsets can be attributed to human error. Overloading most often occurs when poorly trained personnel are allowed to operate cranes. For example, operators may mistakenly believe they are able to rely on their instinct or experience to determine whether a load is too heavy: no cowboys allowed.

Because cranes have become more and more sophisticated, today’s operators must be well trained and have a clear understanding of load dynamics, lifting capacity configurations, and the conditions under which such lifting capacities are valid.

It’s Electric

Nearly 50 percent of crane accidents are the result of machinery coming into contact with a power source during operation, which most often occurs when the crane is operating nearby or under energized power lines. Usually, the person who is electrocuted is physically touching the crane when it comes into contact with the power line, but the danger extends to all personnel in the vicinity, not just the operator.

Okay, here’s the trivia question, for a chance to win some Towersource apparel and a gift card: during what war does Stephen Crane’s “The Red Badge of Courage” take place? Send your answer to nsavage@towersourceinc.com.

The Sky is Falling

Nobody wants an antenna tumbling down inside a compound. If materials are not properly secured, a crane’s load can land on workers or cause major equipment damage. One way to reduce the risk of runaway materials is to perform regular maintenance, but aside from preventative care, if the load isn’t properly secured, objects can tip, slip out, and eventually crash to the ground below.

Employees working around cranes should always wear proper head, foot, hand, and eye protection. While the crane operator should always be accountable, anyone on the ground should also be aware of his/her surroundings and never walk under a lift. Likewise, suspended loads should never be moved over employees, even if it seems hilarious at the time: no pranksters allowed.