Moving large, heavy loads is crucial to today's manufacturing and construction industries. Much technology has been developed for these operations, including careful training and extensive workplace precautions. There are significant safety issues to be considered, both for the operators of the diverse "lifting" devices, and for workers in proximity to them. This course is a starting point for finding information about these devices and their operation.
OSHA’s standard applies to power-operated equipment used in construction work that can hoist, lower and horizontally move a suspended load, unless such equipment is specifically excluded from coverage.
The types of cranes and derricks in the next few tabs are the most commonly used in construction and covered by OSHA’s crane standard.
Mobile cranes: These cranes use a lifting device incorporating a cable suspended latticed boom or hydraulic telescopic boom designed to be moved between operating locations by transport over the road. Mobile cranes include crawler mounted, wheel-mounted, rough terrain, all-terrain, commercial truck-mounted, and boom truck cranes.
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Tower cranes: Lifting structures which utilize a vertical mast or tower to support a working boom (jib) in an elevated position. Loads are suspended from the working boom. While the working boom may be of the fixed type (horizontal or angled) or have luffing capability, it can always rotate to swing loads, either by rotating on the top of the tower (top slewing) or by the rotation of the tower (bottom slewing). The tower base may be fixed in one location or ballasted and moveable between locations. Tower cranes include those with a fixed jib (hammerhead boom), those with a luffing boom, and self-erecting tower cranes.
Articulating cranes: Also known as knuckle-boom cranes and loader cranes. These are cranes whose boom consists of a series of folding, pin-connected structural members, typically manipulated to extend or retract by power from hydraulic cylinders.
All derricks (except for gin poles used for the erection of communication towers): This crane is composed of a tower that doesn’t actually bend but instead pivots at the base. The tower is usually made up of crisscrossing steel pipes and braces. This gives the crane a great deal of strength using very little structure. Four lines are connected to the tower; the crane tower can move in every direction because the lines are independent of one another. Hanging over the end of the tower is a single fifth line that has a hook or other attachment on the end. This fifth line moves up and down and attaches to loads.
The employer that is a prime contractor, general contractor, construction manager or any other legal entity which has the overall responsibility for the construction of the project (its planning, quality and completion) is considered the controlling employer, sometimes called the controlling entity.
All assembly/disassembly operations must be directed by an individual who meets the criteria for both a competent person and a qualified person, or by a competent person who is assisted by one or more qualified persons. The A/D director must understand the applicable assembly/disassembly procedures. The A/D director must take the following precautions to protect against potential hazards associated with the operation.
This is a person who has earned a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or has extensive knowledge, training and experience. This is also a person that has successfully demonstrated the ability to solve/resolve problems relating to the subject matter, the work, or the project.
This is the person who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.
Both qualified and competent persons may also be responsible for duties dealing with developing assembly/disassembly procedures, wire rope safety, fall protection, maintenance and repair, hoisting personnel, multiple crane/derrick lifts, equipment modifications, tower cranes, derricks, and floating cranes/derricks.
Crane operators should be certified before they can operate a crane on their own. There are generally two options for certification:
Before the operation begins, the A/D Director must ensure that the crew members understand all of the following:
Before a crew member goes to a location that is out of view of the operator and is either in, on, or under the equipment, or near the equipment (or load) where the crew member could be injured by movement of the equipment (or load), the crew member must inform the operator that he/she is going to that location.
Whenever the operator knows that a crew member is in such a potentially dangerous position, the operator must not move any part of the equipment (or load) until the operator is informed in accord with a pre-arranged system of communication that the crew member is in a safe position.
When rigging is used for assembly/disassembly, the employer must ensure that the rigging work is done by a rigger who meets the requirements as a qualified person and successfully demonstrates the ability to solve/resolve problems relating to rigging.
A rigger is required when:
OSHA 1926.1430 requires training in specific topics. Below is a list of the training requirements:
Operators must also receive training on the following topics:
For each employee who must be trained the employer must:
An operator will be deemed qualified to operate a particular piece of equipment if the operator is certified under paragraph 1926.1427(b) for that type and capacity of equipment or for higher-capacity equipment of that type.
If no accredited testing agency offers certification examinations for a particular type and/or capacity of equipment, an operator will be deemed qualified to operate that equipment if the operator has been certified for the type/capacity that is most similar to that equipment and for which a certification examination is available. The operator's certificate must state the type/capacity of equipment for which the operator is certified.
There are four qualification or certification options for crane operators.
Option 1 - Certification after passing both a written and practical test administered by an accredited testing organization. Certification is valid for 5 years.
Option 2 - Qualification after passing a written and practical test by an audited employer program. Qualification is valid for 5 years.
Option 3 - Qualification by the U.S. Military (limited to employees of the Department of Defense or members of the Armed Forces). The qualification is valid for the period of time stipulated by the issuing authority.
Option 4 - Licensing by a government entity. If the crane operator is working in a jurisdiction that requires a state or local crane license and the licensing process meets the requirements of this standard, the operator must obtain such a license. Licensing is valid for the period of time stipulated by the licensing department/office, but no longer than 5 years.
A competent person must visually inspect the equipment each shift the equipment is used. Taking apart equipment components and booming down is not required as part of this inspection unless the results of the visual inspection or trial operation indicate that further investigation is needed. The monthly inspection is the same for most equipment.
Shift inspections need not be documented, however monthly inspections do need to be properly documented and maintained for a minimum of three months.
Before the equipment can be used, it must be inspected by a qualified person to ensure it is configured in accord with manufacturer equipment criteria.
If a qualified person who conducts an inspection identifies any deficiency in any of the items inspected and determines the deficiency constitutes a safety hazard, the equipment must be taken out of service until the deficiency is corrected.
If a qualified person determines, even though not presently a safety hazard, the deficiency needs to be monitored, the employer must ensure the deficiency is checked in the monthly inspections.
Where the severity of use/conditions is such that there is a reasonable probability of damage or excessive wear (such as loading that may exceed rated capacity, shock loading exceeding the rated capacity, or prolonged exposure to a corrosive atmosphere), the employer must stop using the equipment and a qualified person must:
Equipment which has been idle for three months or more must be inspected by a qualified person in accord with the requirements for monthly inspections before being used.
Equipment with modifications or additions which affect the safe operation of the equipment (such as a safety device or operational aid, critical part of a control system, power plant, braking system, load-sustaining structural components, load hook, or in-use operating mechanism) or capacity must be inspected by a qualified person, prior to initial use.
Note: Under Standard 1434, any such modification/addition must be approved by either the manufacturer or a RPE. The inspection must assure the modifications or additions have been made in accord with the approval and must include functional testing of the equipment.
Equipment with a repair or adjustment to ensure safe operation must be inspected by a qualified person, prior to initial use. This requirement applies to adjustment to a safety device or operator aid, critical part of a control system, power plant, braking system, load-sustaining structural components, load hook, or in-use operating mechanism
A qualified person must determine if the repair/adjustment meets manufacturer equipment criteria (where applicable and available). Where manufacturer equipment criteria are unavailable or inapplicable, a qualified person must determine if a registered professional engineer (RPE) is needed to develop criteria for the repair/adjustment.
If an RPE is not needed, the employer must ensure the criteria is developed by a qualified person. If an RPE is needed, the employer must ensure criteria is developed by the RPE. The inspection must determine if the repair/adjustment meets the criteria developed by the RPE or qualified person and must include functional testing.
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Watch this DoD video about the basics of Mobile Crane safety.