Crane Institute of America

Training Round-up: Common Crane Accidents & Prevention

This year American Cranes & Transport’s (ACT) annual roundtable on safety and training included thought from Debbie Dickinson, Executive Director, Crane Institute Certification (CIC). ACT posed the questions and Dickinson and two other ‘industry gurus’ provided answers.

ACT: What are the most common types of crane accidents in North America today? How could they be prevented?

Lattice boom crane accidentDickinson: Accidents occur for a multitude of reasons, but many experts agree that among the more common causes are improper or damaged rigging and incorrect crane set up. Crane safety is greatly enhanced when operators are skilled and knowledgeable in the areas of safe operations, proper set up, correct site evaluation, crane inspection, knowing when components and controls are not in good working order and when operators know how to accurately determine capacity.

By working through a reciprocal crane operator certification program with the British Columbia Crane Safety Association (BCACS), CIC also saw the importance that our neighbors to the North put on an operator’s knowledge of rigging. In BC, operators are required to prove knowledge in each of the areas mentioned an in rigging to an advanced level. Safe crane operation cannot be pinned down to on area or one person’s responsibility. It takes a crew to make a lift and a skilled, knowledgeable crew to make lifts safe.

Multiple studies by government private groups have shown that crane operator certification saves livers through reduced accidents.

Cal-OSHA Study (Report on Fatal Crane Related Accidents, June 1, 2002 to May 31, 2008, California Division of Occupational Safety and Health) Showed an 80 percent decrease in fatalities despite an increase in the number of cranes active in the state during the time the study was conducted.

Center to Protect Workers’ Rights examined data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2008 to evaluate crane-related fatality trends. Among the recommendations in the report (Crane-Related Deaths in Construction and Recommendations for Their Prevention) by the Center for Construction Research Training was for operators to become certified by nationally accredited crane operator testing organizations.

Province of Ontario’s ongoing study (Crane and Rigging Fatalities, Province of Ontario, Construction Safety Association of Ontario) since 1978 has shown that crane-related fatalities decreased by 80 percent and rigging-related accidents decreased by 50 percent.

While certification is a verification of an operator or rigger’s knowledge, training must come first. Accidents can be prevented when crews are trained to look for hazards and to know how to mitigate risks in their specific job environments. In addition, employers should not impose short cuts that compromise safety. Short cuts are expensive and dangerous. It doesn’t matter how many times an operator has made a particular type of lift. Every lift must treated with the same attention to safety. Frequency is not a license to cut corners. Supervisors, operators and riggers must be trained and willing to take the time to do each job right.

Also read:
Training Round-up: The Biggest Issue in Crane Safety

Courtesy of American Cranes & Transport
January 2014, Volume 10, Issue 1