Overhead cranes like any piece of heavy machinery can be a death trap if not used correctly. While every work site has its own safety guidelines and worker protection protocols, care must be taken to proactively prevent accidents by adhering to every safety mechanism in the book. Sometimes overhead crane operators or site supervisors can become overconfident and attempt to move away from the standard best practices and safety guidelines, often with grave consequences.
Here are three common myths about operating overhead cranes that can destroy your equipment and worse, pose a real danger to yourself and others.
Side-pull: It’s alright to hoist an object sideways with a crane
An overhead crane is designed to lift and place things that are directly below it. It might be tempting to hoist an object which is not directly placed below it but nearby. You might think you have enough rope and the crane can bear the capacity. Side-pulling is a very irresponsible maneuver because it forces the machine to work beyond its mechanical limitations. Side-pulling poses a serious risk to passers-by and also your work colleagues. The rope can swing dangerously and the tremendous stress on it can cause it to snap. Besides this, side-pulling can damage the machine in several ways.
Standard daily inspections: The crane was used yesterday and so should be working today
Any heavy machinery, with all its complex components and delicate parts, needs to be inspected everyday before use. Standard practice should require a supervisor or operator to run a series of basic checks and log these into a file. Many companies overlook this step to save on time and effort and wrongly assume a machine is working perfectly. Even a cursory check can help prevent an accident.
Test the machine for any strange sounds or abrupt movements. Ensure that all parts of the crane are secured correctly and nothing appears loose or damaged. Test the buttons to make sure they work in the right directions. The crane operator should be in contact with only one designated person on the ground. Too many people communicating with the operator to give guidance and instructions can be a disaster.
Load limit: I can stretch the load limit by a few tons
Overhead cranes come with a load capacity for a reason. Attempting to hoist an object above the recommended capacity can pose a danger to everyone on the work site and damage the equipment.
Although some overhead cranes are designed by the manufacturer with a buffer capacity, it can still add an enormous stress to the machine and cause it to malfunction. It is possible to fit most cranes with a load-weighing device to help you asses how far you can go in terms of load capacity.
While these myths may appear common sense and logical, they are still a leading cause of accidents and damage in work sites. By taking note of these, you can make your work site safer and safeguard your equipment.
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Neil Mcinerney, Sellafield Ltd
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