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Crane Operator Qualifications and Best Practices


Moving large, heavy loads is crucial to today's oil and gas industry. A lot of 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.

Crane Operator and Rigger Qualifications

The qualifications of crane operators and riggers should follow the API RP 2D standard, including:
  • Each crane operator should be designated as authorized in writing by a competent/authorized company representative.
  • A list containing the names of authorized crane operators should be maintained by the company on all manned platforms.
  • Only designated and authorized workers should be allowed to operate the cranes.
  • Crane operator trainees should operate cranes only under the direct supervision of a competent/qualified operator.
  • Crane riggers should have written certification verifying completion of a recognized crane rigging course as detailed in API RP 2D.

Crane Operation Best Practices

When operating cranes:

  • Always verify that the status of each of the following items is documented, and that each item is in place and in compliance at the beginning of the crane inspection:
    • crane controls
    • capacity chart
    • properly marked controls
    • operational boom angle indicator
    • hand signal charts
    • operational limit switches
    • wire rope condition, by a visual inspection
    • sling and cable condition, by a visual inspection
    • boom condition
    • hook safety latches
    • fluid levels

Crane Operation Best Practices (Continued)

  • Take the crane out of service if operational limit switches are not functional. The crane should not return to service until properly repaired.
  • Never leave the crane unattended with a suspended load.
  • Use 2-part shackles with cranes when conducting normal deck operations.
  • Operate cranes within their rated load capacities as specified by the load capacity chart.
  • Do not use cranes to slide or snake the load by pulling from the side with the crane boom.
  • Use tag lines to control the load.
  • Use Shepherd Hooks to retrieve tag lines.
  • Use a ‘Hands-Free’ practice when handling loads.
  • Do not place yourself under a suspended load.
  • Deck crews should establish an avenue of escape to avoid pinch points.
  • Paint crane blocks and crane balls safety yellow or orange.
  • Know the weight of every load lifted with the crane.
  • Do not ride the crane block, suspended loads, boom, or hooks.
  • Position crane booms so that there is no possibility of interference with helicopter operations.
  • Stand outside of the cab so that the helicopter pilot can see you.
  • Do not operate cranes in adverse weather conditions.
  • Make workers aware of the crane load’s ‘fall zone’ area.
  • Keep the fall zone area clear of workers not associated with a lift in process.
  • Lay the crane boom in the boom rest for maintenance.
  • Never override crane safety limit switches.
  • Transfer workers by crane only if a certified operator is controlling the transfer, the crane is outfitted with an anti-two block device, and a proper workers basket is used.

Weather Stops for Crane Operations


Weather conditions exceeding the limits discussed below can result in injury or property damage when performing a lift and crane operations should stop.

The crane operator and boat captain are the persons who decide whether to make a lift.

Follow these general guidelines for Stops for Crane Operations:

  • When stopping crane operations, a Stop Work Authority (SWA) should be used if the situation is deemed unsafe to proceed due to changing conditions.
  • Crane operations should stop even if everyone has agreed that they may proceed.

Crane Operations should be stopped under the conditions shown in the following table.

Weather and Sea Conditions that Stop Crane Operations Operations Stopped
Seas meet or exceed 12 feet Dynamic Crane Operations
Winds meet or exceed 35 mph Crane Operations, Static & Dynamic
Lightning in the vicinity Crane Operations, Static & Dynamic

Crane Assisted Personnel Transfers


When conducting crane assisted personnel transfer net devices, employees should follow these minimum lifting practices recommendations:

  • Develop a written procedure for transferring workers on offshore facilities with a worker carrier.
  • Conduct worker transfer training prior to going offshore.
  • Conduct a pre-use inspection of the transfer basket prior to making any workers transfer.
  • Ensure that cranes assigned to worker lifting duties are suitable for this purpose.
  • Crane operators assigned to worker lifting duties should be certified and competent to perform this task.
  • Worker carriers may not be used in weather, wind, or sea conditions that the qualified crane person considers unsafe.
  • Attach a snag-resistant tag line to all worker carriers.
  • Crane hooks used for worker transfers should have a positive locking latch.
  • Use only approved worker carriers for lifting workers per API RP 2D.
  • Do not use workers carriers as a workbasket or cargo net.
  • Legibly mark workers carriers with the maximum number of passengers.
  • Do not transfer luggage in the center of the workers net.
  • Be careful leaning over to get bags, especially in rough seas.

Crane Assisted Personnel Transfers (Continued)

  • Before any attempt is made to lift workers with a carrier, give clear instructions to all persons involved.
  • Do not transport workers suffering from acute seasickness or vertigo.
  • Any person may refuse transfer by a workers basket.
  • Persons riding on a worker carrier should wear an approved Type I Personal Floatation Device (PFD) for all transfers.
  • Personnel riding on a workers carrier should stand on the outer rim, evenly spaced, and adjacent to a sidewall opening in the netting, facing inward. Passengers interlock forearms to the inside of the sidewall netting.
  • If crane operator’s view of the primary signalman is obstructed, the workers carrier should not be moved until alternative communication or signal devices are placed in service.
  • A designated primary landing zone should be marked in a safe area as determined by a JSA.
  • Lift the worker carrier only high enough to clear obstructions and gently lower it to the deck.
  • Do not raise or lower a loaded worker carrier directly over a vessel.
  • The crane operator may refuse to lift any person who does not comply with the operator’s instructions.
  • An experienced escort should attend to persons who are not confident performing a workers carrier transfer.
  • Injured, ill, or unconfident persons may ride in a sitting position.

Operating an Offshore Crane- The Wrong Way


Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. What action should be taken if an operational limit switch on crane is not functional?

2. When operating a crane, which method should be used to control the load?

3. Under which of the following weather conditions should all crane operations be stopped?

4. Which of the following actions should be taken prior to making any crane-assisted workers transfer?

5. Personnel should stand on the outer rim, evenly spaced, and adjacent to a sidewall opening in the netting, facing inward during which of the following procedures?

Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.