Crane Safety

Crane Safety

Be sure that all tools, oil cans, grease guns and rags are stored in a tool box and all of clothing (such as a jacket) is stored so that they it does not interfere with the operation of the crane.  Be a good housekeeper.  Soft drink cans and similar items can roll under the brake pedals and make you drop a load.


Remember that a poorly maintained crane is not a safe crane.

  1. Daily inspection should include checking engine oil, radiator coolant level, and fuel level in the fuel tank.
  2. Daily inspections should include a visual inspection of all wire rope used on the crane. Any bad wire rope should be replaced before the crane is used. Also check to see that the rope is reeved correctly on the drums and is running true in the sheaves.
  3. Look at the sheaves for excess wear and broken flanges on the sheaves on the boom, on the hook block and the entire boom hoist sheaves. Check the load hook for cracks or for being bent out of shape.  The safety latch must be in place and in good working order.
  4. Look at the boom for possible damage [on lattice booms look for bent or missing lattices (lacings)] and if any, report this to the supervisor. Check for bent main chord members.  These carry the load and if any chord is bent the crane should not be used until a replacement section is installed.
  5. All controls, clutches and brakes should be checked for adjustment or excessive wear. Look for grease or oil on brake or clutch linings.  Do not operate until grease or oil is removed and the reason found.  Grease or oil all points to be lubricated daily as shown in the operator’s manual lubrication chart. Especially oil all linkages.
  6. If you see loose bolts or anything else that you consider wrong, such as oil leaks, don’t start up until it is corrected or reported to your supervisor. That loose bolt or that something else you saw wrong might mean that something is really wrong with the crane.  Don’t overlook it.

Mobile Cranes: Setting up the crane level and on solid ground is an absolute must!  You can throw the load charts out the window if the crane is not set up level, because you have changed the tipping moment.  Setting cranes up on loose or unstable soil is just as bad.  If the crane settles on one side, you have changed the tipping moment again.

Set the crane’s outriggers before making any lifts.  Many accidents occur when crane operators don’t set the outriggers for a simple lift.  No matter how small a lift or if you think that the crane is balanced enough to handle a light lift, without the outriggers set properly, you are not prepared for possible changes in the operation.  Increasing counterweight or securing the crane with cables to avoid tipping situations is never an acceptable practice and raises the possibility of structural failure.  If these operations continue for long enough, the repeated stress placed on the boom is certain to result in a boom failure.


Only qualified crane operators should operate a crane for lifting loads. No one should operate a crane until he has read the operator’s manual for that crane and is familiar with the particular traits of that crane. 

Be sure everybody is out of the way before you sit down in the seat to start the crane.  Cranes should not be operated when helicopters are landing or taking off.  Work all control levers to see that they work freely.  Check that all control levers are in neutral or center position. If the crane has a master (disconnect) clutch, be sure it is not engaged.  The foot brakes should be latched down if the crane has foot brakes.

To get the engine to full horse power before hoisting a load, let it warm up for 3-5 minutes before operating the crane.  A torque converter will not operate right until the torque converter oil is warm; on hydraulic cranes, the hydraulic oil will not flow right to the winches until the oil is warm.

In a damp or wet place, sometimes moisture drops off everything and that moisture affects the operation of the crane. To ensure the crane will operate properly, perform these tasks before you hook onto a load:

  1. Raise the boom a few inches off of the boom rest and stop it to see if the boom brake will hold. If it does hold then proceed to the next step.
  2. Raise the boom high enough to clear all obstructions and lower and raise the boom several times with the boom fairly high.
  3. Lower the main hook nearly all the way to the ground and raise it again, keeping a slight pressure on the brake on the way up. Do this three or four times to burn any moisture off of the brakes. 
  4. Now lower the overhaul ball and hook nearly to the ground keeping a slight pressure on the brake. Do this three or four times.

Even if you operate a hydraulic crane, raise and lower the blocks as this helps warm up the oil and you will find out if the crane is operating properly. You are now ready to start lifting loads.

Never leave the crane cab while a load is suspended from the crane. 

Land the load, secure the crane controls and shut down the engine before leaving the cab.