Crane operation is a highly-specialized, training-intensive, heavily-regulated and safety-critical job function in any organization or environment. When loads are being moved, people are at risk, period. As stated in the National Safety Council’s Accident Prevention Manual, cranes “present certain hazards that cannot be removed through engineering…it is only through the exercise of intelligence, care and good judgment that the associated risks can be reduced to an acceptable level.” This responsibility falls to the crane operator.
For any lift to be carried out successfully and safely, planning is required, and the underlying concepts are quite simple. The nature, size, configuration and weight of the load must be known. The path of the load must be understood. The rigging must be proper. The lifting device must be capable. Personnel must be clear of the load during the process. Communication channels must be open, and the operator of the crane has the ultimate authority regarding what will or will not occur. These concepts can be found over and over again in the literature.
There are numerous government regulations, industry standards, company rules, operational guides, safety texts, handbooks and training materials that address the issues of safe crane operation, proper rigging procedures and load handling. All of these resources have at their core the extensive work done over almost a century ago that has resulted in the promulgation of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) B30 series of crane-related safety standards. The OSHA regulations, which govern workplace safety, include numerous consensus standards, including the ASME B30 series. Therefore, many of the safety issues and concepts addressed by the ASME B30 standards are not only presented as guidelines and recommendations, but are law in the workplace.