Rigging & Working with Cranes
Let’s face it, cranes moving materials on the job on a heavy construction site is a very common occurrence. Working around cranes and rigging materials to that crane is extremely important to keep yourself and the rest of the job site safe. Rigging and working with cranes improperly has been known to cause serious injury and even death.
So, what is the name of the game on the job? A lot of the time it is production, production, production. Why is this? The more production, the more money that can be made on the job. Now why would I bring this up? Companies nowadays are having to switch from the production mentality, to the safety equals production mentality. A lot of times on the job, when working with cranes, the name of the game is getting the material to it’s location as fast as possible. This causes short cuts to be made on the part of the “certified” rigger, as well as the crane operator. Most people think if there is an accident involving a crane losing it’s load, it is the riggers fault. This is partly true. Now it is only part true because the crane operator and the rigger have to work as a team.Both parties must insure the way the load is rigged is safe. The operator of the crane is the judge jury and executioner. This means the operator has the ultimate responsibility to perform a lift safely. If the operator does not like the way a load is rigged or does not believe the equipment being used is safe, he or she can terminate the lift without reason.
Why would we bring any of this up? Accidents with cranes are always catastrophic. A lot of damage can be done and almost always someone is injured or killed when an accident happens. When using spreader beams, always ensure the beam is in good condition. Make sure beam is rated for the load being lifted to include the weight if the rigging being used. Yes, rigging must be factored when reading a weight tag on the hoisting equipment. Super studs, 2x4s, I-beams, etc. are not to ever be used as spreader beams. Why? Because none of these materials are ANSI rated tools for lifting or hoisting. Inspecting all rigging is just as important. This includes inspecting the crank hook as well. As a rigger you should ask the crane operator for proof of the last inspection of the crane. The crane operator must be able to produce those documents. Saying they are at the office is not good enough. The rigger should also ask to see the operator’s certifications that qualify him or her to be able to operate that crane. If the crane operator cannot produce the documents, the rigger should not work with that operator. There are many different factors that go into working with and around cranes. Many of those factors are life threatening.
There is a theory that a 60-ton crane can lift 60 tons. This is true, but is it safe? The answer is no. To safely perform a lift a crane should never exceed 75% of it’s rated capacity. Why is this? Loads can bounce, be blown around by the wind, math done for the load could be wrong, etc. Always know the weight of your load. Both the operator and the certified rigger should know the max capacity of the crane and the load being lifted. If the weight of the load and rigging combined exceeds 75% of the max capacity of the crane, the load should not be lifted and a bigger crane should be brought in.
Knowing the dangers of hoisting and lifting operations as well as keeping good communication between the rigger and crane operator, is key in keeping the work site safe. Two-way communication via radio should be used when operating in blind areas. Hand signals should be used as well. Going home to your family day in and day out should be your number 1 priority every day.