So your company wants to cut cost and it has decided to perform their own inspections and preventive maintenance on their overhead cranes and hoist. Why not right? I mean, your company has a maintenance department. They fix everything else in the plant. They fix the cranes when they are broken. That must mean they are fully able to inspect them as well. Well…. Not if you’re going to go by the rule book, the latest and greatest CMAA standard (Spec 78) which is one of the many specs that is followed by OSHA. OSHA does not know all and they need other committees to help them put together these regulations. CMAA is an association developed by the Crane Manufacturers Service Committee. They are highly knowledgeable committee that is led by the leaders in the industry. According to CMAA there are many qualifications that are required for crane inspectors including physical requirements, work experience, required training, and even local licensing. Let’s take a deeper look at the various requirements so you can understand the burden you will be carrying performing your own inspections.
There are several physical requirements that are set by CMAA for crane inspectors. Some of the more understood qualifications is proficiency in reading and writing English, proficient oral and written communication skills, and be able to distinguish between colors, and have adequate hearing for the job, and physical dexterity, endurance, and strength. There are other qualifications that may not be known like the specifics of the vision qualifications. You are required to have 20/30 minimum in one eye and 20/50 in the other. This is with our without corrective lenses. Your depth perception has to be within normal range, including your field of vision, hand-eye coordination, with no existing conditions of dizziness. You also have to be subject to a safety and drug program. Therefore if your company does not have one in place or it is not that assiduous, then they will need to step up their program even if you only have one employee inspecting your crane. Heights are an additional requirement that gets overlooked probably because it seems so obvious. Your inspector must be comfortable working at heights to access the crane. He has to understand the safety requirements for this, and be able to work safely under adverse physical conditions. It can get extremely hot at the height of the cranes in the plant. So it is immensely important that the inspector understands this and can physically handle the conditions that he or she will be working in. The last physical requirement is fairly understood and most companies adhere to this when hiring maintenance personnel. You can have no physical restrictions of any kind. Meaning… you have to have control of all your body functions at all times, and total emotional stability. I would like to think that companies do not hire people for maintenance personnel outside of such a requirement, but I know that all companies work differently. It is very important for the company to follow these qualifications for the safety of their employees.
Work experience of the inspector is not only something that many companies don’t follow for their maintenance crew but many crane servicing companies do not follow this as well. CMAA requires your inspector to have a minimum of “2,000 field hours of experience related to the maintaining, servicing, repairing, modifying, and functional testing of cranes and associated hoisting equipment”. If you do outsource your crane inspections you should ask your vendor how many hours their inspectors have. They should have well over 2,000 hours if they are inspecting your equipment. On top of these qualifications they should have a good understanding of the various codes and regulations on the overhead cranes set by OSHA, CMAA, and ANSI.
Lastly, we get into the required training that CMAA has set as minimum qualifications to be an inspector. This training however means nothing if any of the prior mentioned are not met. Your employee may have extensive training but if the work experience is not there or the physical requirements cannot be met, then the training of the employee means nothing. You need to have all three in order to be qualified to inspect overhead crane equipment. The training of the inspector is no less arduous than the physical or experience qualifications. It is required for the inspector to have formal training in codes and regulation at Federal, State, and local level. The inspector has to be very discerning with the various codes and regulations set forth by OSHA, CMAA, ANSI, and local committees. They are required to take refresher courses every two years to get acquainted with revisions that change annually. They need to know the difference between “Shall” and “Should”, which can complicate issues greatly if they misinterpret the two. It is essential for the inspector to have trade skills as well which comes from their work experience. The inspector has to have a working knowledge of the products and equipment that they are inspecting. This will help them identify wear patterns, and hear things that may be out of the ordinary. Safety is another important training subject that needs to be familiarized by the inspector as well. This is for their own good to make sure that they work safe, and understand if certain operations of the equipment is unsafe. This would include the astuteness of job-site conduct. Testing of all these training topics is required so the inspector can demonstrate his proficiency of these topics. Certain local governments will require the inspector to be licensed as well, so make sure you check with your local government agencies to ensure if they will need a certification or license to inspect your equipment.
I have discussed several points that CMAA requires inspectors to be qualified in. With all these issues mentioned, please re-think your option to inspect your equipment yourself. Yes, you may save money short term by performing your own inspections. However to do it properly the money spent on your inspector is great, and the responsibility that you are giving yourself far exceeds the few dollars that your saving doing so. If you’re going to go and follow the regulations by doing periodic inspections on your overhead cranes, then seriously think about the burden of doing this on your own. Us crane guys are here to help you, and we want you to make the right choices for your company. In the very least contact your crane vendor and discuss with them the option to perform the periodic inspections on your own.