Updated: Feb 25
Watching tall, powerful cranes move large equipment and heavy loads with precision can be an awe-inspiring sight, but there is also an inherent danger in crane work which one needs to be mindful of. Even a small mistake, a tiny miscommunication, or a minor lapse in judgment, can result in a bad accident. This is why it’s imperative to ensure that operators who control these giant metal machines are trained and skilled at their job.
Crane safety starts with crane operator training. If a crane operator is knowledgeable about how a particular lift should be performed and understands when conditions are favorable (and when they are not favorable) for performing a lift, potential accidents can be averted.
There are many “unfortunate” examples out there that signify the importance of crane operator training to crane safety, but one which still makes nervous whenever it gets mentioned is the Big Blue Crane Collapse.
In the afternoon of July 14, 1999, Big Blue was busy lifting a 400-ton retractable roof for the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team’s new stadium at Miller Park, when the crane suddenly collapsed.
What caused Big Blue to collapse?
It was a minor negligence on the part of the project team where they forgot to factor in the wind for the day when planning the lift.
The incident took the lives of 3 workers and injured five others while costing the company in charge of the construction a total of $500,000 in compensation.
Today, crane operator training and certification is mandatory in almost all states. OSHA requires crane operators to have a certification either by “type” or “type and capacity” as well as have adequate training in crane design and operation. The agency strictly instructs employers to ensure compliance.
A good crane operator training program teaches the operator about capacities and loads, crane inspection and maintenance, operational safety precautions, maneuvering, responding to emergency situations, crane parts, components and more.
Crane operator training may not completely stop accidents at work sites, but it can definitely reduce them, and as such forms an essential part of crane safety. Are your crane operators properly trained?
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