Overhead Shop Crane Safety
Overhead shop cranes move heavy items in manufacturing and production areas. Although shop cranes are useful, “overhead” can sometimes be “out of sight and out of mind” when it comes to safety. Workers need training on crane hazards and operation, and they should never forget the safety issues moving overhead. Only trained operators should use overhead shop cranes. They should always be inspected and tested before operation. Shop cranes require audible warning devices when moving unless the crane is operated by a floor worker using a suspended controller. Everyone on the worksite should be trained on the crane warning signals.
Operators must know the load capacity of their shop crane; loads that exceed the limits of the crane should not be moved. The load rigging requirements need special attention; loads that cannot be safely rigged should not be lifted. Before moving loads, the crane operator should inspect the path of the crane for obstacles and people; the path must be clear before starting any crane movement.
Controls for overhead cranes should be clearly marked with their function. It is ideal if control handles operate in the direction that the crane will be moving. Whether operating a crane from an overhead bridge or the floor, the operator always needs a clear view of the crane pathway.
Crane safety features may include spring-return controllers that return the operating switch to a default off position, momentary contact buttons that cause the crane to stop when it hits an obstacle, or reset buttons in the event of power loss. Operators must be familiar with the shop crane they use and never operate it without the equipped safety features.
Emergency response preparedness is a necessity when operating an overhead crane. Operators and site workers should plan for situations such as electrical, mechanical, or power failure. Procedures are required for retrieving a crane operator from the elevated cab in an emergency and a fire extinguisher must be provided in the cab.
While the crane is in operation, operators and other site workers should be aware of the potential pinch and crush points and stay clear of the moving machinery at all times. Operators and rig loaders need fitted clothing and secured hair and jewelry when working around cranes. Workers should never “ride the load” of an overhead crane.
When performing maintenance on overhead cranes, workers should use lockout/tag out procedures to ensure there are no accidental startups and movements. To prevent accidental activation of the crane, operators must lower and secure loads when not in use, and use appropriate parking and shut down procedures for safety and security.
Safe workers know what’s up when working with overhead shop cranes.