Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Gantry Crane Collapse

I found this video a long time ago. I never posted it because like the Harland and Wolff accident I really wanted more information. I researched online and could not fine anything on this following accident. This accident is of a gantry crane falling down in the winter outside and it almost hits a nearby person in a car. I have no idea where it is, nor do I know why it happened. If anyone knows please fill me in and I will add it to my posting. I think these videos of accidents are very valuable in learning what can happen if the operator is not trained or the equipment is not periodically inspected and preventive maintenance is not performed when it needs to be. This guy barely survived with his life. It appears to me the crane fell because of lateral force on the legs of the gantry. Now it is possible that this was caused by a load swing, or a component on the crane giving out. It is hard to tell without some kind of information. The crane does not even come into the screen until it has already fallen. It is very hard to tell what took place. It is however a good video clip of a gantry crane accident so I thought it should definitely be on my blog. If you have any ideas about this as well, please share them with me. I will post any corrections to this video as I find them. I just wanted to get it up online while it was still available.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Harland & Wolff Accident

I wanted to post this accident in the past but I never did because I wanted more information. Did anyone die? How did it happen? It is often hard to find out those answers because private companies do not have to report an accident if no one gets hurt. Unless someone is killed it is easy to keep the information from getting out to the public. This occurred at Harland & Wolff in Belfast on April 4th 2007. No one was killed in this accident. This is the same shipyard where the Titanic was built. There are 5 cranes in the shipyard. They have two Goliath cranes. One nicknamed Goliath and the other Samson. Goliath was built first in 1969, Samson was built in 1974. They span 140 meters (460ft) with a lifting height of 70 meters (230ft). Each has a capacity of 840 metric tons, or 926 short tons. So combined they can pick up 1600 metric tons or 1852 short tons. They are complete monsters. The crane that fell was a Henson 60 metric tons (66 short tons) crane. It stood 25 meters (82ft). The filming was taking from atop of the neighboring Henson crane. It is said that when the crane fell it came only within a few feet of the neighboring crane. I would think that a shipyard as big as this one would have an anti-collision system installed that would prevent such a collision. As the tower crane comes into the path of the gantry crane they should make it so that it automatically stops the gantry from moving in the direction of the tower crane. Since no one was killed then I imagine then that the tower crane was empty. This would mean to me that someone parked the crane in that position. Why would they park it in the path of the crane? There should also be a safety mechanism that does not allow for shutdown of the crane if it is in the path of the Gantry. In this age of technology there is no need to not have it. The price to install one on a crane would be minimal.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Crane Accidents

OSHA 1910.179B(6) states that
only designated personnel shall be permitted to operate a crane covered by this section.
Designated means selected or assigned by the employer or employer’s representative as being qualified to perform specific duties. ASME B30.2-3.1.1 states that
cranes can only be operated by qualified personnel.
The biggest questions I hear from customers is, what is qualified personnel? ASME is very broad with its definition of personnel and makes it hard to decipher the ASME regulation. However if you read further into the ASME codes it gives you its definition of qualified personnel. If you refer back to ASME B30.2-0.2 it states that
a qualified person is a person who, by possession of a recognized degree in an applicable field or a certificate of professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training, and experience, has successfully demonstrated the ability to solve or resolve problems relating to the subject matter and work.
So basically this is just telling you that to be a qualified personnel you need to be properly trained and have the experience, and show that you are fully capable of operating a crane. Training is the key to operating the crane properly. Just because somebody has operated a crane for 10 or 15 years it does not make them qualified. They need the knowledge to go with the skill. Even the experienced operator can learn from a training course. Many accidents occur because the crane operator regardless of his experience has little knowledge of the fundamentals of crane operation. I have posted a few crane accidents that look as if the operation of the equipment was improper. This video shows the dangers of picking up a load and using the crane as a securing device. Cranes are designed to pick loads straight up and down only. They not meant to pull sideways. This is what can happen when you side pull a crane or shock load it. Both cases were done here. This next video is of a rubber tired gantry crane that crashed. I am unsure of the cause whether was an operator error or if this was a equipment failure. If anyone knows about any of these accident please let me know and I will update the post.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Limit Switches
When do you check a Limit Switch? Many people understand this regulation completely wrong. There are many others that think that they don’t need to check the limit switch, and of course others who don’t want to check it because they are worried about it failing. This of course is the exact reason why you should be checking. So when do you check a limit switch? Well, if you said daily you are wrong again. You should be checking it each shift! That is the correct answer. If your facility has more than one shift then it needs to be checked at the beginning of that shift. Checking it only once a day opens the door for something to potentially to happen because the next operator has no idea what was done on the first shift. So, please for your own good check the limit switch on the beginning of each of your facility’s shift.
Another idea that floats around that I hear when I visit my customers is that the limit switch needs to be tested under a load. That answer is absolutely false. You should never check the limit switch under a load. For that matter you should never check any part of the crane or hoist under a load. The only time a load should be on the hook during a test is during a load test and that should be done by professional crane technicians.
Many companies are very worried and tell their crane operators to skip the limit switch inspection. They worry that it may get stuck or does not work. I tell you if there ever is a time you want to find that out, it is during an inspection, you don’t want to find out while you’re making a vital pick. To inspect the upper limit you should be inching the load block into the limit switch. Do not go right into high speed. Go in slow speed or if you have a single speed hoist then jog the pendant so the load block is inched into the limit switch.
Many manuals will suggest you to go into high speed. Me personally, I leave that to the operator. You can after you jog it into the limit switch. However be prepared that the load block may not stop at the same point that it stopped when you jogged it into the limit switch. Just like a car, the faster you go the longer it will take to slow down; at least if you have a VFD that is how it would work. So be careful!
A second fable that exists in the crane world is pretty much the exact opposite of what I just told you. I have talked to many customers that think that they can use the limit switch at an operational device. When I say operation device I mean that they think they can use the limit switch every time they operate the hoist. There are many applications that would require the load block to reach its upper most limit in order to get the most height out of the load hook as you possibly can. However unless you have two limit switches on your hoist this is not allowed or recommended. A limit switch is designed as a safety device only; so constant operation was not applied to the engineering of the device. This can decrease the life of the limit switch since many are made out of plastic. If your crane is equipped with two limit switches than you should check with your overhead crane contractor to see if you can utilize the limit switch as an operating device.
You should be having a crane company come in quarterly, semi-annually, or annual depending on the usage of your crane. During this time it is a good time to talk to your crane contractor too see what they recommend for performing your daily, and monthly inspections. Depending on your crane you may want to inspect it differently from what I have suggested.