Heads Up! OSHAs Take on Crane Rigging Safety

It’s all in 29 CFR 1910 and OSHA’s take on crane rigging safety training is as comprehensive as the 25 states (including the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico), which have adopted much the same standards as OSHA. Ranging from general industry to marine terminals and longshoring to the construction industry, OSHA has published a daunting listing of standards, requirements and records keeping rules recognizing the “significant safety issues to be considered, both for operators…and for workers…”

General Industry Rules for Crane Rigging Safety

The subparagraph at 29 CFR 1910.179(b) applies to most types of cranes, which OSHA says must be equipped with wind speed meters, rated load markings (marked on each block).  The next subparagraph of that article request overhead and lateral clearances of 3 inches and 2 inches respectively between the crane and any surrounding obstructions.

Crane Hoists — the lynchpin of crane safety

OSHA mentions the word “hoist” or “hoisting” 15 times in this section, since failure of a crane hoisting mechanism or lifting gear under the pressure of sometimes enormous weights can lead to disaster.  Among other things OSHA rules prescribe adding rope guards to prevent chafing or fouling. The rigging must have “at least one self-setting” (or holding) brake and hoist motors must be torque rated (at least 100 percent) for a full-load lift where the hoist brake is applied (125 percent “when used with a control raking means other than mechanical). Also, when lifting power is no longer applied, the brakes must automatically activate.

Inspecting the Rigging

How often must rigging wire ropes be inspected and must it be recorded? The answers are at least monthlyand yes. The certification has to show the date of inspection, the inspector’s signature and a clear indication of which ropes were inspected. If the inspector notes that the running ropes have deteriorated, he needs to make a determination on whether continuing using the ropes would result in a safety hazard. Some things to consider when determining if the ropes constitute a safety hazard:

  • Rope diameter has worn down because of corrosion or outside wear.
  • A large number of broken wires appear on the outside.
  • Wires  are kinked, crushed, cut, or unstranded.

Handling and Moving Crane Loads

OSHA prescribes some rather obvious commonsense conditions that must exist before loads are lifted and moved.

They include:

  • a well-secured and properly balanced load in the sling or on the lifting surface.
  • a hoist rope free of kinks
  • an untwisted multiple-line configuration
  • a smooth acceleration or deceleration of the crane operation (no sudden stops or lifts
  • no load contact with any obstructions
  • no side pulls unless certified necessary and safe to ensure that the crane is not overstressed.
  • brake testing by the operator when the rated load of the rigging is approached
  • the presence of a responsible person when two or more cranes are used to lift a single load.

And much more…

OSHA crane safety rules also include rigorous operator and observer certifications, routine maintenance and equipment inspection and training. Your managers and supervisors need to pay close attention to potential crane accident situations. Just Google “crane accidents” and see one of many, although labeled “hilarious,” might not seem so funny if it happened to your people.

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