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Crane Safety and the Importance of Operator Training
With good pay and high demand for their skills, it’s a great time to be a crane operator. If you’re considering changing careers and looking for a new challenge and a great new way to earn money, crane operation might just be for you.
Or perhaps you’ve been driving cranes for a while, and you already knew that it’s one of the best gigs out there. Maybe you’re a seasoned operator and your current goal is to make yourself more marketable to prospective employers. Regardless of whether you’re experienced in the field or just breaking into it, you probably understand that, on any job site, safety must always be your top priority.
This article will attempt to educate you on a few of the most important tenets of crane safety. However, please note that no amount of online articles will ever be a valid substitute for a good crane safety training course. The purpose of this article, then, is to provide a jumping-off point for further education and research. However, if you intend to be operating cranes as part of your on-the-job duties, you’ll need to head to a reputable school, like the one offered by West Coast Training, where you’ll be able to learn in depth about crane safety with the help of a highly experienced instructor.
It’s one thing to learn to do the job. However, when it comes to learning how to operate the machinery safely, it’s critical to get a professional certification. Tower cranes are extremely heavy—not to mention powerful—machines, and can easily weigh up to 300 tons, with a boom length extending out up to 60 meters. Handling them safely takes some real skill.
A Few Safety Tips
With the above in mind, here are a few safety tips. First and foremost, however, is to ensure that all cranes, regardless of their size, are only ever operated by highly qualified, certified professionals. A crane operator now has to hold a crane certificate. One of the nationally known certifications is from the National Commission For The Certification of Crane Operators, or NCCCO. This will ensure they’ve had the best possible crane safety training and can handle the equipment properly at all times. These certificates can be obtained from courses like the four-week or eight-week Crane Operator Courses at West Coast Training.
Take Your Time
Often, accidents happen because operators feel rushed, become stressed, or get too comfortable, and miss critical steps in the safety protocol as they hurry to get the job done. Don’t let this happen! Getting a job finished by a certain time is not worth any sort of risk to life or limb; proper planning will ensure that you don’t find yourself needlessly pressed for time. Allow plenty of time to implement all of the safety protocols in this article, as well as any others that are important to the safety of the workers on your job site.
Always Inspect Your Equipment First
It’s essential that you do a thorough checkup of anything you will be using that day, even if you think your equipment is in good working order. Check any cables connected to your crane to make sure they’re not showing any signs of stress or wear; if they are, do not use them. Look at the booms on your cranes as well; make sure they’re not cracked, bending, or showing any other signs of damage.
Ensure That All Loads Are Always Secure
A tower crane can lift some very, very heavy loads, and if those loads are not secure, they can quickly become a hazard. Every cable must be in place and properly fastened before anything is moved. Never try to use the crane to lift anything beyond its known capacity; if you are unsure, don’t risk it.
Make Sure the Operating Area Is Clear
Needless to say, it’s critical to ensure that every part of the crane’s area of operation should be entirely clear of people. Make sure, before you start up any of the heavy equipment, that you have informed any nearby workers to keep a safe distance from the crane as it’s working. Each day, before getting into any kind of operation, there should be a safety briefing where each and every worker is informed of where they can safely be at any given time.
Have All Your Safety Procedures in Writing
Even highly trained, professional crane operators are capable of making mistakes, and utilizing as many safety features and redundancies as possible will go a long way toward mitigating the risk.
One of the most important ways to do this is to write every single safety procedure onto a checklist. All workers on your job site should be required to go down the checklist and check off every step before starting work. You should always have these checklists in an easy-to-access area; common areas, such as by timecards and in lunch areas, are excellent locations for them.
Where to Learn More
Of course, this article only provides a very brief summary of some of the most important crane safety procedures. There are plenty more, and they should be repeatedly practiced under the supervision of a qualified crane safety training instructor. If you are located anywhere in the western United States, West Coast Training is your best bet for quality instruction, both in the field and in the classroom.
With a small number of students and multiple cranes for each course, you’ll have plenty of time to practice with cranes and other heavy equipment; you won’t simply be waiting your turn to operate the machine. After four weeks of extensive training, you’ll be able to obtain your NCCCO certificate, demonstrating to prospective employers that you are a very safe—crane operator.