Crane service operators like you are in command of multi-million-dollar machines that are lifting multi-million-dollar loads. You are expected to know the best way to make that lift and transport the object to the necessary target location, but you are also expected to know how to execute this in the safest way possible. Working in an industry and with large equipment that is ever evolving and changing, it's important that you keep up with best practices, as well as local rules and regulations. Here are a few tips, suggestions, and recommendations to ensure you are successful in operating your crane as safely as possible.
1. Always Read The Load Charts
As an experienced crane operator, you will probably be responsible for working on several different types of cranes. It is very important that you read the crane's load charts before you even turn the key to start the crane's motor. These charts will tell you how much weight the crane can handle at various heights and using different lift methods. Never lift a load that is heavier than what the chart says the crane can handle because, not only could you break the crane, but you could cause the lift to fall and get damaged or cause injuries to people near it when it comes crashing down.
2. Check All Fluid Levels
Prior to turning the crane on, you should also double check the gas, oil, and hydraulic fluid levels. There is nothing worse than having a 5-ton lift up in the air and then have it plummet to the ground because there is a hydraulic fluid leak that you weren't aware of or you ran out of gas before you could deliver your lift to its destination.
3. Wear Proper Clothing And Safety Attire
There are reports of crane operators being injured due to falling loads or outrigger failure while making a lift. In order to protect yourself, you should always wear the appropriate safety gear, like clear safety glasses and a hard hat. Depending on the type of industry you work in, you may also need special cribbing and pads to prevent bodily injury while operating a crane. Think as cribbing as a strong cage that surrounds you and protects you against heavy falling objects.
4. Check For Structural, Electrical, Mechanical, and Hydraulic Issues
Always walk around the outside of the crane at the start of your shift and look for structural damage to the crane, such as bent metal or missing bolts. Also check and make sure all wires and other electrical components are in good order. Verify that all parts are oiled and that the hydraulics are working properly.
5. Be Cautious Of Ground Conditions
Another tip that is best done prior to the start of the lift is to look at the ground conditions to make sure it's dry and solid enough to handle the size of the load. If you are lifting a heavy load and the crane starts to sink into the ground, the entire set-up will become off balance and you could lose the load.
6. Never Override The Computer
Like many things in today's age, cranes are often have a computer on board. One of the most important things you can do to safely run a crane is to make sure you don't override its computer. This can be done by trying to move a load that is too heavy for the crane or not watching the angle of the load and causing the computer sensors to be not be level. When the computer is overloaded, you are greatly increasing the risk of the computer malfunctioning and dropping the load or damaging the crane itself.
7. Turn Off Your Cell Phone
Always keep your cell phone turned off while operating a crane. The distraction will do nothing but increase the risk of accidents and mistakes. Your phone may also interfere with the crane computer and affect its operation.
8. Be Aware Of Changing Conditions
It is important to be aware of any changing weather patterns, which can greatly affect the success of your lift. If it's raining too heavily, the lift can become slippery and unsafe and it would probably be best to suspend the job until things dry up a bit. It's also important to take note of change among personnel. If a co-worker is hot-headed or agitated, he could overlook something important and make a huge mistake.
9. Evaluate The Lift Plan Every Step Of The Way
As a crane operator, you must always be aware of your surroundings. Throughout the lift job, take some time to stop and evaluate the situation. Make sure the ground is supporting the lift, verify the wind isn't influencing the lift plan, and make sure the lift remains stable at all times. If necessary and possible, change the lift plan as many times as needed along the way to make sure it is as safe as can be.
10. Beware Of Overhead Hazards
Since cranes can reach high into the sky, it's imperative that the crane operator is aware of any hazards lurking overhead. This includes power-lines and buildings that are close by. Not only could you damage the lift by bumping into these things, but it could cause an electrical outage or construction damage.