by Ike Riser | 

Utilizing cranes in construction can be a considerable advantage as we build America’s infrastructure. However, cranes can also be lethal. The power, magnitude and scale of cranes are often taken for granted.

On my very first day in heavy civil construction (1979) I was fascinated by all the heavy equipment and crane activity on this multi-million-dollar water treatment plant. My excitement and enthusiasm were soon dashed when a laborer on the project was struck by a falling load from a crane, which resulted in his death. The realization that my occupation is dangerous hit home as my job was rigging super heavy-duty formwork. I had not been trained in crane safety or rigging, yet I had this huge responsibility of working with and around cranes. I decided that day that I needed to learn all I could about working with cranes and crane activities if I wanted a career in heavy civil construction.

Employees often take crane activities for granted, with the assumption that once a load is lifted off the ground by the crane, the crane operator will ensure the load is safely landed. Crane activities are no place for assumptions. The fundamental principle of crane safety is understanding the hazards of crane operations and mitigating those hazards.

There are five critical hazards related to crane operations:

  • Hazard #1: Cranes coming in contact with electrical lines are the #1 killer in crane activities.
  • Hazard #2 – Assembly and disassembly of cranes ranks #2 in crane fatalities.
  • Hazard #3 – Overloading the crane’s capacity causes crane overturns or collapse.
  • Hazard #4 – Improper rigging can be the result of “Rigging Failure” causing a load to fall.
  • Hazard #5 – Struck by moving loads have resulted in serious injury and/or death.

All of these hazards can be avoided if we train our employees; ensure we follow the operator’s manual, lift plans, inspections and company safety policies; and have qualified and competent employees overseeing the operations. When it comes to safe crane operations, assumptions are the greatest dangers.

Learn More about Cranes & Derricks in Construction

Ike Riser is an instructor at the OSHA Training Institute Education Center. Ike has over 39 years of construction and safety experience and has been instrumental in the success of award-winning safety programs and numerous safety awards received, many of which were for high-hazard projects. As corporate Vice President of Safety for Shimmick Construction, Ike served as the firm’s expert and chief safety liaison in the fields of operations management and field craft safe protocols.

Ike provides a broad range of safety training in areas such as fleet safety, HR/safety, worker’s compensation, general liability/auto claims, loss prevention, accident investigations and various OSHA courses. Learn More

 Upcoming OSHA #2055 Cranes in Construction Classes