Crane Safety on Construction Sites
The construction industry is characterized by a dynamic work environment which presents hazard to workers daily. Due to this, the construction sector has extremely high fatality and injury rates in comparison to other industries. Although there are several factors behind these accidents, many construction-related fatalities and injuries could be attributed to one critical component of the construction industry: the crane. Cranes are often used to lift unfamiliar and unstable loads over a large number of construction workers, usually depositing loads in close proximity to workers engaged in activities which are completely not related to the crane. A tipped, mishandled or dropped load can injure workers. Therefore, it is important to take some safety measures to enhance crane safety in construction sites, thus minimizing injuries and fatalities. Let us take a closer look at these crane safety measures.
Crane Safety Procedures on Construction Sites
When it comes to crane safety, it is important to ensure that all lifts are conducted such that in case of an equipment failure, no worker would be injured. The crane safety procedures can be classified into four major categories: training, Installation, communication and electrical measures.
Training is conducted to eliminate or minimize the possibility of crane failure associated with human factors and to involve workers in selecting and using safety devices. A crane operator should have adequate understanding of cranes and be able to demonstrate satisfactory skills in operating them. Safety experts also recommend additional qualifications, like emotional stability, freedom from seizures and no drug usage. Every operator should receive formal training from qualified instructors to ensure adequate crane knowledge.
Electrocution can be a hazard both to the crane operator and other personnel involved in the operation of the crane, such as riggers and signalmen. Therefore, riggers should be adequately trained to detect hazards while rigging, like wire rope deformation, kinking, strain or binding. The crane maintenance personnel should be properly trained on how to handle each crane component and how each component interacts with the entire machine.
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Cranes should be assembled and disassembled under the supervision of a qualified and competent person. Moreover, a certified engineer should ensure that the crane foundation and underlying soil offer sufficient support for the maximum overturning movement of the crane. The installation of the tower cranes should be done such that they can rotate 360 degrees without striking any structure or object.
New construction projects should be evaluated on their ability to withstand pressure and torque created by the crane before installation. Workers are often injured while disassembling lattice boom cranes due to poorly-supported booms. Therefore, workers should avoid working under poorly supported loads.
Most tower cranes are often rented. For this reason, it is important to undertake inspections before any operation of the crane, as well as throughout its use. One critical inspection which needs to be done involves the connection between the superstructure turntable and the carrier below. Failure of this connection will make the superstructure to undock from the carrier, leading to accidents.
Communication offers an effective way of avoiding crane electrical failures due to contacts with nearby structures or equipment. Radio communication is essential for tower cranes, especially during blind lifts in which operators rely on riggers or signalmen for smooth operation. Besides voice communication, hand signals can also be an excellent communication method for crane operators. But ensure that illustrations of these hand signals are posted onsite.
Electrical Safety Procedures
Electrical safety measures will reduce the risks of electrical failure during crane operation. Most crane-related electrocutions occur if such procedures are not followed. In cases where the crane operator is unable to visually maintain safe clearance, OSHA specifies that a person should be designated to watch the power line safe clearance and alert the operator when the crane reaches that limit. OSHA also requires that de-energized power lines should be visibly grounded. OSHA regulations state that the minimum safe clearance between the power line and the crane must be 10ft for construction around power lines rated below 50kV; and for power lines above 50kV, the least safe clearance must be 10ft plus 0.4inch for every kV above 50kV.
Cranes play an integral role in most construction projects which, when improperly operated, can cause enormous injuries and loss of lives. This where the aforementioned safety measures come in handy to help you reduce the potential for such accidents.