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Asphyxiation: Signs, Causes, and Corrective Techniques

Asphyxiation, AKA asphyxia, and suffocation is a medical condition when a person’s body starts lacking an adequate amount of oxygen. Unavailability of oxygen leads to poor breathing and high blood pressure issues, ultimately leading to unconsciousness and brain injuries.

If we call it suffocation, it may not seem like a big issue. But a person working or sitting in a confined space can be highly affected by the situation. Oxygen deprivation can be fatal in many cases, especially if proper medical aid and prompt care are not provided.

Crane operations have always been a risky business, particularly for the crane operators who sit inside a crane cabin and work under pressure conditions. They’re prone to medical risks such as Asphyxiation.

In this blog, we have highlighted the signs and corrective/preventive measures to help crane workers steer clear of feeling suffocated and out of breath while operating a crane.

Causes of Asphyxiation

There can be many instances wherein a person may feel short on oxygen. When adequate oxygen doesn’t reach the lungs, a severe loss of oxygen content occurs inside the bloodstream. This problem leads to palpitations because the heart starts pumping blood quickly to help vital organs receive the required amount of oxygen.

Some of the key causes of Asphyxiation include airway hurdles, chemical ingestion or inhalation, and working in confined spaces.

At construction, supply chain, and material management sites, crane managers need to ensure proper medical aid to combat any instances of Asphyxiation among crane operators. Here are all the signs that indicate that a person may be suffering from these conditions:

Asthma-Like Symptoms

It’s very common for people suffering from Asphyxiation to feel out of breath. For example, an operator may think that they’re getting asthma, but it can be a major sign of Asphyxiation. When a human body lacks oxygen, asthma triggers like allergens, chemical irritants, and stress can lead to further oxygen deprivation.


Seizure is another common indicator of Asphyxiation. A crane operator may experience breathing problems like pauses and apnea while working inside a crane cabin. This happens when the oxygen airway is obstructed, objecting to seizure.

Other signs indicating an Asphyxiation attack includes:

  1. Visual impairment

  2. Loss of consciousness

  3. Slow or extremely fast heart rate

  4. Difficulty breathing

  5. Confusion and stress

Tips to Prevent Asphyxiation in Crane Personnel

Here are some of the main strategies that can help crane managers prevent Asphyxiation issues in crane operators:

Prevention Training

Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to critical job tasks such as crane operations. A crane operator who understands the potential medical risks of their job will be better able to tackle on-hand issues.

Employees must be provided full and sufficient training about disaster and medical issue management strategies during crane operations. They should be able to recognize the symptoms of Asphyxiation in order to implement basic self-safety techniques.


Crane operators, especially the ones who maneuver and navigate cranes from inside the cabin, must stay hydrated at all times. A poorly hydrated body is an easy target for medical problems like Asphyxiation.

Crane operators often forget to drink water and eat well due to workplace stress and pressure. This is when managers and medical teams should step in for regular reminders.

How Can Crane Warning Systems Help

Crane Warning Systems Atlanta is a prominent crane safety gear supplier in the US.

Our company offers RCI and LMI systems, Wind Speed Indicator, load moment indicator, CCS2 crane system, RaycoWylie A2B system, crane anemometer and much more.

Learn more about our crane safety equipment brands or avail a quick quote today! You can also access free crane safety products manuals and guides on our website.

For more information, contact us now.

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