top of page

Common Crane Accidents and How to Avoid Them!

There are 125,000 cranes in operation across the US. And with over 250,000 crane-related activities taking place every day, site managers and operators across the country need to stay vigilant.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, around 71 occupational fatalities can be attributed to the use of cranes and hoists. Most of these injuries take place because workers are exposed to largely avoidable dangers. Ensuring safety is just a matter of compliance with safety standards and the right safety equipment.

Here are some common crane accidents and how they can be avoided:

Dropped loads

Cranes are designed to lift heavy and oversized items. The culprit behind dropped loads is usually improper rigging. Improper rigging takes place as a result of both human error and improper adherence to the crane manufacturer’s instructions.

It could also be the result of using broken or failing equipment. The best way to avoid such a mishap is to always inspect the rigging and hooks before securing a payload. Moreover, make sure you’re rigging the payload by following the instructions completely, and that you aren’t using workarounds.

Here are a few other preventative measures:

  • Don’t use hooks if they’re stretched or twisted.

  • Make sure the safety latch is intact and not broken.

  • The angle of the load also has an important role to play. This should be as close to zero as it can be. Once the angle exceeds ten degrees, you’d have to make adjustments accordingly.


As stated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, electrocution causes one out of every ten construction deaths.

This happens when a site manager is either not careful about nearby power lines, or if there are above-ground power lines close by. If current is flowing through the machinery of the crane, as a result, anyone standing near the crane is at risk of being electrocuted. When a crane hits an energized power line, disaster can strike, because cranes are made of conductive materials.

So before initiating a crane project, make sure you’ve established where all the power lines are.

Moreover, get the utility company to check the voltage of these lines and determine the minimum distance that should be maintained from them. Once you’ve done so, use flags to mark boundaries, so workers are aware of them.

Boom collapse

One of the worst mistakes a crane operator can make is improper weight calculation. Commercial cranes come with strict weight limits, the violation of which can lead to system failures. Even if you’ve gone slightly above the set limit, a boom collapse can take place that will eventually result in a dropped payload.

The best way to avoid this is to include the weight of rigging when you’re calculating the total weight. Once the payload has been hung, avoid adding extra weight. Moreover, get boom inspection and service done routinely. For excess weight, use an anchor shackle instead of a chain shackle. The chains and hooks used should be compatible with the crane model.

Pro tip: speak to the manufacturer and ask for recommendations.

OSHA recommends inspecting lifting cables before use and making sure that the load capacity includes a margin of safety. OSHA also warns against allowing workers to work under suspended loads.

At Crane Warning System Atlanta, we stock top-quality crane safety products, including crane LMI & RCI indicators and ATB warning systems. To find out more, give us a call at 1-877-672-2951.

Find more about Crane Indicator Systems here.

19 views0 comments


bottom of page