How often should you inspect your overhead crane? I can tell you that this question gets asked to me quite often. Depending on the use of the crane, the class, or the location of the overhead crane, will change the answer to that question quite a bit. Here, I will give you the guidelines and you can decide which category your crane falls into.
To know the frequency of inspection will require you to understand the usage of your crane. The inspection intervals are broken up in three usage categories. You have Normal Usage, Heavy Usage, and Severe Usage. Most overhead cranes fall under normal usage but let me give you the guidelines for each usage so you can decide for yourself which category your cranes fall under.
Normal Service – Around 5 lifts an hour, Can pick up over 50% capacity but not over 50% of loads at rated capacity
Heavy Service – Pick up over 50% of rated capacity, 5 to 10 lifts an hour and 65% of loads at rated capacity
Severe Service –Pick up near capacity on most loads, 20+ lifts an hour
According to ANSI B30.2-2011 there are five categories for overhead crane inspections; Initial, Functional, Test, Frequent, Periodic, and “Crane not in regular service”. All these inspections require a qualified person to determine which deficiencies are safety issues.
The initial inspection is a documented visual inspection that is required after the installation of a new crane or hoist, and equipment that has been reinstalled from alteration, modified or repaired.
Functional Test Inspection
This is your pre-shift inspection. Every shift your overhead crane operates, this test must be performed. You will be testing all the functions of the overhead crane and performing a visual and audible inspection. In addition to the functional test, the upper limit of the hoist is also required to be tested, and the wire rope or load chain requires a visual inspection as well. Documenting this inspection is not required but it is advised. Documentation will show that the overhead crane has been tested so other operators on that shift know it is safe to use. The documentation will also show that you are pro-active when it comes to safety in your facility which will help greatly if an accident ever does occur within your facility.
A frequent inspection is another visual and audible inspection of your overhead crane. The frequent inspection is based upon the usage of your crane. There are three different categories of the frequent inspection. Which one does your crane fall into?
Normal Service – Monthly
Heavy Service – Weekly to Monthly
Severe Service – Daily to Weekly
During this inspection you would do everything on the functional test inspection, and you also check the “operating mechanisms”. The hoist brake is the most important component to inspect next to the wire rope or load chain. This will have to be checked and made sure that it functions properly and any adjustments would need to be made at this time. The inspector should be listening for any abnormal sounds. The hook and latch requires an inspection as well. The frequent inspection does not require a record like the functional test inspection but “should” be made.
The periodic inspection is the inspection that many overhead crane owners call their annual inspection. The usage of the crane again depends on the frequency of inspection.
Normal Service – Yearly
Heavy Service – Yearly
Severe Service – Quarterly
Please note however the periodic inspection is not in the state of California. In California annual inspections are required on all overhead cranes, and also quarterly preventive maintenance is required regardless of the service class or crane capacities.
Now what about that crane you have that you rarely use? If you have a crane that has not been used for more than a month but it is under 1 year, then you will be required to perform an inspection on it prior to use. The same applies if it has been more than one year as well. My suggestion to you is that if you know you’re going to use it, then get it inspected. If you know you are not going to use it, and it will not be used in any emergency then wait to get it inspected when you need it.
In addition to the five categories of inspections, the manufacturer of your overhead crane will sometimes require additional inspections. If this is the case on your overhead crane, then this must be followed as well. These additional inspections could include quadrennial gear case, motor coupling, bottom block, or load brake inspections. Your owner’s manual will list these requirements so make sure you have a copy of one.
There are several overhead crane owners that I know of that simply either cannot afford to do the required frequency of inspection or feel that they can get away with just an annual inspection. However, just doing an annual inspection does not make you compliant and if the reason you’re doing the annual inspection is to stay compliant, then you would need to do all the required inspections. A crane that is used often can be unsafe to use if the frequency of inspection is not followed. If someone was to get hurt in your facility from a faulty overhead crane component and OSHA was to investigate, doing one annual inspection is not going to reduce any penalties. You still missed the daily, monthly, and frequent inspections. You’re also creating a lot of wear and tear on your crane that can easily be preventive with routine maintenance. Your overhead crane operators are required to have operator safety training as well. I am willing to bet if your not doing the inspections then your definetly not doing the training either. This is how accidents happen. Having cranes that are not maintained and operators that are not trained. Not only is it against regulations, you are putting your employees at great risk. Take the time to know what inspections are required of your crane. Talk to a reputable overhead crane company that can consult with you and help ensure that your cranes are inspected at the correct frequency.