On any worksite that utilizes an overhead crane for handling materials, there should be a clear safety program in place. This includes using an overhead crane inspection sheet to ensure all is working as it should before allowing a worker to operate the system.
A preventative maintenance program featuring a daily inspection is important because operating cranes can be a dangerous occupation. Between 2011 and 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) found there were 297 crane-related deaths on U.S worksites. In just over half these cases, the fatality was a result of equipment or an object striking a worker, whereas 91 of these deaths were due to a falling object. If you want to know how you can tighten up your safety protocols relating to cranes on-site, keep reading. You will also find downloadable checklists to help with inspections and other crane safety information.
What Should You Check During an Overhead Crane Inspection?
You should always reference the manufacturer’s operating and maintenance instructions to make sure you check all the essential elements of the crane that you use. This helps to maximize the safety of your crane, reducing incidents that could affect co-workers as well as passers-by in the runway. Doing this regularly means you spot potential problems before they develop. You also reduce maintenance downtime for the equipment.
Then, check the requirements of your local health and safety authority to ensure you stay compliant. For example, in the USA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires the crane operator to perform frequent inspections on the system.
That being said, the following is what, in general, a crane operator should check:
|Element to Check||What to Look At|
|Safety Equipment||Is all the safety equipment in place and ready to use?|
|Lockout/Tagout||Make sure the crane is de-energized and either locked or tagged so that no one can operate it while the operator is conducting their inspection.|
|Area Around the Crane||Check whether the area is clear of other workers.Make sure the area where you will lift the materials to is clear and adequately sized.Make sure there are no lit warning signs.Ensure you know the location of the disconnect switch.Is there a fire extinguisher close at hand?|
|General Equipment||Make sure the below-the-hook (BTH) lifting device is compatible with the crane.Ensure the BTH device is capable of lifting the load.Verify the load does not exceed the capacity of the crane.Make sure that no wire is twisted on the bottom block.Check that wires are sitting in drum grooves and not pulled from bushings.Ensure controls are working and undamaged, and that there are no broken, loose, or damaged parts on the system.|
|Powered Overhead Crane Systems||Check that the buttons work without sticking and always return to the ‘off’ position when released.Ensure the warning device works. Make sure all buttons are in working order and performing the tasks they should. Make sure the hoist upper limit switch is operating as it should.|
|Hoist Hooks||Check for twisting, bending, cracks, and wear. Look at the hoist chains too.Are the safety latches working correctly and in the right place?Ensure there is no grinding on the hook as it rotates.|
|Crane Bottom Block||Check for cracks, damage, and wear to the various working parts. See that the sheaves are smooth and don’t grind or make unusual noises when they rotate. Can you see the capacity markings clearly?|
|Load Chain and Wire Rope||Make sure the wire is unbroken with no damage or corrosion.Check that the diameter hasn’t decreased in size.Are the chain sprockets working correctly?Look at each chain of the load chain to see they are free of cracks, corrosion, and other damage.Ensure there are no wires pulled from strain reliefs.Check for wear at contact points.|
|Other Items||Test brakes.Check for loose items that could cause a fall hazard.Ensure there is no oil, diesel, or gasoline leakage anywhere. Check all rivets, pins, and rollers.Check for worn cracked or distorted pins, shafts, bearings, gears, and rollers|
Overhead Crane Inspections Checklists
Here are some checklists you can use for overhead crane inspections:
- Initial Inspection Checklist
- Frequent Inspection Checklist
- Periodic Inspection Checklist
- Daily Inspection Checklist
Overhead Crane Inspection Checklist Template
If you want to create your checklist, you can download this overhead crane inspection checklist template to make sure that your cranes are in good working order before you use them.
|Alternative to checklists|
If you don’t want to fill in paper checklists all the time, you can create digital ones with an app like Capptions. Digital inspection forms enabled international vertical transport and logistics provider, Peinemann, to get rid of paper. Find out what they said about Capptions.
When Must Crane Inspections Take Place?
Some government bodies require that you inspect cranes annually. However, for increased safety, you should make your own checks throughout the year. Some checks should take place every time you use the crane, others you can undertake more infrequently. The inspection frequency breaks down as follows:
- Frequent Inspections. These are inspections you undertake on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
- Periodic Inspections. These take place bi-monthly, quarterly, or annually.
Even though checks take time during which the crane remains out of action, they can be very beneficial in the long run. Regular inspections spot issues that you can remedy before they cause a major issue and render the crane out of service. Unplanned downtime can cost your business tens of thousands of dollars, as well as slowing down your project. In addition, a safe and well-maintained crane helps prevent accidents and fatalities on site.
Frequent inspections are done visually, where the operator checks their equipment on a regular basis to note any irregularities or damage. These are operational checks. You should make sure the crane operator inspects the operating mechanisms of the crane every time they start a new shift. This includes looking at the trolley, hoists, and hook chains, as well as the hydraulic systems and other important aspects of the overhead crane system. You should look for broken wires as well as nicks and gouges. Make sure the push-button stations are in good working order.
If you have not used a crane for more than a month, but less than six months, you should carry out frequent inspections before you bring it back into service.
Periodic inspections are much more in-depth and thorough than frequent inspections. They involve the usual visual inspections as well as delving into the workings of the various working parts of the crane system and their deterioration.
This includes looking at the electrical wiring, wind, and load indicators. In addition, you should look at power sources, excessive wear to the gears and brake system, loose bolts, and damage to the locking devices and other components on the crane.
When there is a crane that you have not used in six months or longer, you must put all frequent and periodic inspections into action before considering it safe to use.
Safety When Using a Crane Near Overhead Power Lines
Electrocution is a major cause of injury and fatality on construction sites. In 2011, in the U.S. alone, one in every ten on-the-job deaths in construction resulted from electrocution.
The first step to take when working with a crane near power lines is to inform the owners of the lines. You should do this in advance, giving the date, time, and nature of the work you are undertaking. They can choose to either de-energize the lines for the duration of the work or erect insulation barriers to prevent the crane from making contact with the lines.
Afterward, you should:
- Make sure all workers operating cranes for this project have the correct training. They should be aware of safe operating procedures.
- Scope the working area to work out the most suitable equipment and positioning for your project. You should also map the location of the power lines and find out the voltage.
- Make sure the barriers are in position or the power company has de-energized the electrical apparatus.
- Mark safe routes to help operators avoid power lines and post warnings about the proximity of power lines on all relevant equipment.
- Use caution while working, going slower than usual, and watching out for uneven ground. Otherwise, you could cause the crane to move more than expected and strike a power line.
- Appoint a signal person as a supervisor to watch loads if crane operators cannot see the lines from the cab. They should also give permission to other workers to touch the crane or load once they are satisfied it is safe.
Who should undertake overhead crane safety and maintenance checks?
The crane operator should undertake overhead crane safety checks for daily and weekly inspections. For periodic, in-depth inspections, you should task a fully-qualified engineer, trained inspector, or another competent person to ensure the safety of the system.
What is the minimum clearance between overhead cranes and power lines?
Here are the different minimum clearances depending on the voltage of the power line:
|Voltage of the Line (kV)||Minimum Clearance (feet)|
|Up to 50||10|
|Between 50 and 200||15|
|Between 200 and 350||20|
|Between 350 and 500||25|
|Between 500 and 750||35|
|Between 750 and 1,000||45|
|Over 1,000||To be decided by the power line owner or a registered electrical professional.|
How often should a crane be serviced?
OSHA regulations require a full crane inspection every year. The manufacturer’s recommendations usually back this up. However, if your crane is in continuous use, it’s best to inspect it quarterly.
Creating an overhead crane inspection sheet allows you to perform all the necessary checks on your overhead cranes and keep them in good working order. This not only contributes to more efficient use and less unplanned daytime, but it keeps your site running safely, too.