Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What Do I Need to Know About Crane Operator Training?

There are two key factors you will find when accidents occur in a facility. Either it is caused by complacency or ignorance. There is only one way to reduce this thinking of employees. That is to make safety a value shared by all in the company. Safety must be a culture created by the management of the company. It needs to be believed in by all. If everyone does not buy into then it will not become a culture. When you have a culture of safety committed personnel, ignorance and complacency are no longer factors. The only way to create this culture is to make safety your number one priority above all else including productivity and profitability. If employees believe that the company they work for cares more about their well being than the profit of the company then they will take pride in that and not only will they work safer, they will also watch out for others to ensure the safety for those that work around them .

One key ingredient in creating a safety oriented culture is by providing ongoing safety training. Refreshing employees on safety steps they can take in the facility to make their work day safer will help keep safety in the forefront if their minds daily. Ongoing safety training would include daily and weekly safety talks, monthly safety meetings, and annual training on major safety issues. One major safety issue in your facility is your cranes. Out of all the regulations required by OSHA and ANSI the one that get missed the most would have to be qualifying crane operators. Many companies know to inspect their cranes but they fail to think about the people who are actually operating them. Many will even put an operator on a crane that doesn’t even have any experience operating one. A company will invest in inspections and repairs but will then fail to take that next step to ensure their employees are fully trained in operating the equipment. Not only is this against various codes, and regulations set forth by governing bodies, it is also a great liability.

Barclays California Code of Regulations Section 5006 qualifies an operator by stating, “Only employees authorized by the employer and trained, or known to be qualified, in the safe operation of cranes or hoisting apparatus shall be permitted to operate such equipment.” It is also written in the regulations, “Trainees may be authorized to operate cranes or hoisting apparatus provided they are under the supervision of a qualified operator.”

ASME B.30.2 regulations are what OSHA will reference for crane operator training requirements. ASME requires that cranes be operated by ONLY designated persons, trainees under the direct supervision of a designated person, maintenance and test personnel, when it is necessary in the performance of their duties, and inspectors. Now to be considered qualified by ASME, they required that the crane operator SHALL be required by the employer to pass a practical operating examination. Qualifications shall be limited to the specific type of equipment for which the operator is being examined.

There are many things to consider when providing crane operator training for your employees. For one you need to ensure that it is adequate for the type of equipment you have in your facility. You don’t want to provide a basic 15 minute video on crane safety and a test for a facility that has several bridge cranes. The higher the capacity and more complex the operation the longer you should expect the class to be. Minimally, there are FIVE items you want to discuss and test on in the training class that you’re going to be providing for your employees.

1. Daily Crane and Hoist Inspections

This is the most important part of the class. This rarely gets done in most facilities and typically is because the operators not knowing it is their responsibility. There is actually a lot that goes into a daily check and the larger the crane the more intense the daily check will be. A daily check is vital for safe operations in your facility. This also helps the operator have a better understanding of the equipment they are operating. If it is checked on a daily basis than something that is not ordinarily there will be more easily noticed by the operator and will be picked up potentially preventing an accident.

2. Components of a Crane

An operator will be unable to do an appropriate daily inspection if they do not even know the correct terminology of the crane components. The daily inspection checklist has several crane components listed. Without knowing the correct terminology it could lead to an incorrect inspection results and a crane that could be potentially unsafe. If your operators do know the correct terminology they will be able to not only write it up properly but they will be able to inform the crane vendor of any issues that they are having with the crane that won’t be misinterpreted by the vendor. This will allow a more precise diagnosis and lowering your investment by spending less on time spent troubleshooting.

3. Safe Operation of a Crane

Do your operators know how to stop a load swing if it was to occur in your facility? Do they know what to do if they have a runaway crane? Do all your employees know where the main crane disconnect is located in your facility? These are all important questions and if your training does not incorporate any of these items in your training then you do not have the appropriate training program.

4. Hands On crane operation of a crane in the facility

This part is where they take what they learnt in the class and incorporate into some hands on that the crane operators can try out and get confident while you have a professional crane operator instructor in your facility. If you go back to the OSHA and ASME regulations you will see that the regulations require you to pass a “practical operating exam”. This test will suffice for this part of the regulation.

5. Basic Rigging

The number one reason for a crane accident that is caused by operator error is poor rigging. Anything you do with a crane will require some form of rigging. Your operators MUST know the proper way to rig the load. Regardless if you’re using slings, shackles, spreader bars, or other rigging attachments there is still a proper way to use them. A basic rigging instruction will help them be more efficient and safe operators.

In 2011 the Konecranes Training Institute conducted a study that analyzed crane accidents and the fatalities from those accidents. The information from this study was taken from 10 years of public OSHA Inspection Reports. The findings were very alarming if you are a crane operator. This study found that 58% of people injured or killed were crane operators. 37% of crane incidents a person were crushed by a load. This was the result of load drops, or load swings. You can see how serious these findings are. If there is a crane accident, there is a great chance the crane operator will be hurt or killed. This study analyzed that 70% of these accidents were preventable with proper operator safety training.

In closing, it is the crane operators’ responsibility to ensure that they are operating the crane safely; however it is the employer’s responsibility to train their employees with the knowledge to operate the cranes in a safe and efficient manner. When you’re incorporating crane operator training into your safety program, ensure that you have the appropriate material for your employees. Look into a training program that will discuss your equipment, and all five important items to discuss during training.


  1. Awesome article, Calvin! Konecranes is so lucky to have you as an expert. :)

  2. Thank you! I am fortunate to work with lots of experts in the crane industry at Konecranes. That is what makes Konecranes such an excellent company. We have experts in all different areas and idustries so we can help the customers in ways other companies can't.

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  5. My husband is opening his own crane business and is trying to come up with a training and daily maintenance requirement for his employees. It seems like daily crane and hoist inspections would be really important. My husbands goal is to maintain a safe workplace.!crane--rigging/c1mjb

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