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If your employees use cranes at work, you must put these six general safety requirements in place

by , 14 November 2014
Cranes form an essential part of any construction site. You simply couldn't operate your building site without them because of the large amount of heavy material you have to move from one area to another.

But cranes also pose a huge danger.

In the US alone there are, on average, 150 crane accidents per year.

Here in SA, statistics aren't available, but considering how lax we are with compliance, it's safe to assume our figures are worse.

That's frightening and the consequences could be devastating when you consider the injuries and possible death such an accident could cause.

That's why it's your responsibilities to provide your crane operates with all the necessary safety equipment and to check the crane is in good working condition.

You must also ensure these six general safety requirements are in place before anyone does any crane work...


Think cranes are safe? Let's look at some of the serious accidents they can cause

According to gwclaw.com even minor movements on the ground can dramatically affect the crane load in the air. This could result in thousands of kilograms of equipment and supplies crashing to the ground. 

But that's not all that can happen. 
Retaining straps can snap or material could hit buildings or workers. Employees can fall from work platforms while the crane lifts them. And lastly, the crane arm could come into contact with live electrical wires resulting in the electrocution and death of the operator.
Any of these accidents can lead to a costly law suit. 
For example, in the US, there was an incident while a crane was lifting a 26,000-lb generator. One of the nylon support straps came in contact with a steel beam and tore. This resulted in the generator falling to the ground and killing an electrician. The victim's family got a settlement of $2.66 million.
But you can prevent accidents like this by ensuring your operators and their cranes always have these six general safety requirements in place. 
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Six safety requirements for operating cranes

1. Clearly mark all cranes with the maximum mass load it can safely carry. When this mass load varies (e.g. you attach an extendable boom or vary the angle), you must post a table showing the safe mass load at the various positions. It must be clearly visible to the operator. Put this up inside the cabin of the crane.
2. Every winch on your crane's cable must have at least three turns of the lifting rope on its drum at all times (Driven Machinery Regulation 18(1)(c), OHSA). 
3. All cranes must have a braking device that can hold the suspended load if there's a power failure. This device must be able to lower the load slowly and safely to the ground.
4. All cranes must have a limiting device to stop any lifting motion when the lifting hook reaches its highest safe point.
5. A crane with a lifting capacity of 5 000kg or more must have a limiting device to stop the lifting movement when the load is more than the rated mass load.
6. Every crane must have a logbook with a record of hours operators use it, any maintenance you do and a history of all inspections, examinations and testing.
If your cranes have these six safety requirements you can prevent serious accidents and even more serious law suits. 
For more on construction regulations for safe crane usage check out the Health and Safety Advisor

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