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Overhead Crane Safety: 3 Things To Consider

Overhead crane safety

Overhead crane safety is paramount to ensure a hazard-free workplace environment. They remain invaluable in different operations, be it manufacturing, industrial work, or maintenance.

However, they can potentially be the source of workplace injuries and other dangers. Overhead crane operators, employees, and riggers who work near these types of machinery must understand their unique hazards and how to avoid them.



What Are The Most Common Overhead Crane Safety Hazards?


The most common safety hazards regarding the use of overhead cranes include the following:

  • Falling materials
  • Crane overloading
  • Contact with energised power lines


1. Falling Materials

Falling Materials


This is a serious concern in any job site or workplace, especially for overhead cranes. Dangers can occur due to visual impairment, slipping, mechanical failure, two-blocking, or lack of operator training.

An overhead crane load may slip if the materials aren’t correctly secured. It could land on workers near the equipment or damage property.

For mobile or tower cranes, unstable movement of the loads can potentially crush workers rigging the machinery.

To reduce the risk of falling loads, designated personnel must understand how to maintain the hoists properly.

Load testing maintenance allows them to determine the overhead crane’s lift capacity. It’s also vital to ensure the hoist is in optimal working condition. Any undesired loose materials or moving parts can be hazardous to surrounding employees or structures.

Improperly securing the loads or slings is also a leading cause of overhead crane-related accidents. Without properly securing the load or sling, objects can slip, cause the machine to tip over, or fall to the ground.

Mechanical failure may also cause overhead cranes to malfunction and drop heavy loads.

To prevent such instances, crane operators should always perform proper inspection and maintenance. During mechanical errors, operators must know how to utilise the lockout protocol, effectively preventing accidental startup or movement of the overhead crane.

Always being mindful of safety procedures and precautions is crucial to any worksite activity involving overhead cranes.

Employees handling the hoisting must satisfactorily complete a crane safety course. This is because jerky movements on the hoist can be hazardous, especially when carrying a heavy load.

Additionally, overhead crane operators must know how to slowly change and reverse directions to prevent the machine from tipping over.


2. Crane Overloading

Crane Overloading


Exceeding the overhead crane’s load capacity is another source of structural stresses and hazards. Swinging and suddenly dropping the load, using defective parts, and dragging loads can all lead to overloading.

Oftentimes, overloading is due to a lack of proper training on overhead crane personnel. Lack of training may cause crane operators to believe that they can accurately estimate the weight of the load.

However, intuition alone cannot prevent such safety hazards. Ultimately, all crane operators must know the load’s weight and the equipment’s load capacity. Load-measuring instruments, for instance, can significantly reduce risks and operator incompetency.

In Singapore, those who wish to become overhead crane operators can take a course where they’ll be taught how to operate, sling, and rig a crane.

Most crane operator courses contain theoretical and hands-on lessons. Aspiring operators will be introduced to the Workplace Safety and Health Act (WSHA) Regulations Concerning Lifting Equipment.

The courses also include:

  • Risk assessment
  • Pre- and post-operational checks
  • Roles and responsibilities of an overhead crane rigger
  • Slinging and rigging safety
  • Practical sessions

With formal training, an overhead crane operator will have a working and operational knowledge of crane load charts, preventative measures, and other safety precautions.


3. Contact With Energised Power Lines


Collisions with electrical power lines are also one of the primary sources of overhead crane accidents. It happens when the overhead crane’s hoist line or boom gets into contact with the power lines, causing electrocution to the operator or anyone touching the crane.

Contact with power lines often happens because of a lack of safety planning. It’s also likely that preventative measures were not considered during the crane operation.

But several safety tips can avoid these situations. For instance, the site manager must determine who is in charge of pre-operation safety planning before anyone uses the cranes.

Hazardous areas must be marked as danger zones, which all operators should be notified of. Generally, areas within a 10-foot radius of a power line are unsafe/considered a danger zone.

Such areas must be clearly marked through fences, tapes, insulated barriers, etc. Visual cues allow workers to determine the overhead crane’s correct positioning to prevent the boom and hoist line from colliding with electrical hazards.

All power lines must ultimately be considered energised – it is better to err on the side of caution, especially when working with electrical components and heavy machinery.

Therefore, an operator should maintain a safe speed when running the crane. When using a remote system, it’s best to use a non-conductive or radio system, as these are much safer choices near power lines.

Everyone on a worksite involving an overhead crane must nevertheless have proper training. This is done to avoid danger zones or any locations where electrocution is possible.

Employees nearby must assist operators, especially under low visibility conditions. Any other nearby objects, such as ladders, systems, and construction tools, must be non-conductive as much as possible.


Conclusion About Overhead Crane Safety


Operating a crane comes with several hazards and potential dangers. A significant percentage of overhead crane-related accidents are often due to neglect or improper pre-assessment of crane components, worksites, employee training, etc.

Wherever an overhead crane needs to be used, it’s vital to keep these hazards and safety tips in mind to reduce the likelihood of accidents.

For more information, contact Pollisum via WhatsApp or call us at +65 67557600. We offer transport equipment rental services for crawler cranes, trailers, barges, tugboats, and mobile cranes in Singapore.


Frequently Asked Questions About Overhead Crane Safety Tips


There are three basic parts to an overhead crane:

  • Bridge - Serves as the crane's track.
  • Trolley - Vehicle that travels on the bridge
  • Hoist - Lifts loads up and down.

While many fatalities can occur from cranes, the number one cause is falling loads striking workers or bystanders.

SWL is the abbreviation for safe working loads. It's calculated by considering the boom length, ground condition, rotation radius, boom inclination, etc.