Keeping employees safe while on company property is a huge responsibility for business owners and managers, and one that must be taken seriously. This type of concern for employee safety is particularly important in warehousing, manufacturing, heavy industrial, or construction settings, where heavy machinery is used for business reasons, brought in to help with moving inventory and equipment, or involved in making repairs or renovations. An overhead crane is an example of the type of heavy machinery capable of causing serious injuries or even fatalities if it is used incorrectly or not maintained properly. If your business is preparing to hire an overhead crane service to assist with an upcoming project and you are concerned about safety, learning more about crane inspections is the best place to begin.
What standards are in place to regulate crane inspections?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and various other state, federal, and industry organizations maintain specific regulations and guidelines for the inspection of overhead cranes and other types of lift or hoist equipment.
How often are overhead cranes inspected?
Overhead crane inspection frequencies, according to OSHA, are to be done "frequently" and "periodically." While these terms are somewhat generic in nature, most overhead crane companies maintain and document their own set of rigorous daily inspections of all equipment, gear, and operating mechanisms the operator will be utilizing during their shift.
Periodic inspections, usually done on a monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annual basis are usually dictated by the number of lift cycles or hours of use the equipment receives. Specific servicing and more frequent spot checks and inspections are used whenever the overhead or gantry cranes are exposed to conditions that may create additional concerns regarding structural or mechanical wear, such as adverse weather or hazardous environments, which could create a safety hazard when the crane is in use.
How are crane inspectors trained and certified?
Overhead crane inspections, like those of many other types of heavy equipment, are performed by specially trained inspectors who have received certification from the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) or another accredited certifying agency. To receive this certification, inspectors must demonstrate verifiable knowledge of overhead and gantry cranes, including, but not limited to, critical information, such as:
- hoist motion and its effect on the structural integrity of the crane and its components
- load-bearing chains, pulleys, magnets, and other components placed under stress by the operation of the crane
- load blocks, including hooks, shackles, swivels, sheaves, pins, bearings, and any frame suspended by hoist ropes
- bridges, trolleys, foot walks, hand rails, steps, ladders, and other equipment used for access and egress
- load ratings and stress load information for all metals used in the crane and its components
- spans and minimum clearance guidelines
- wind-indication devices used to give audible alarms when wind velocities reach predetermined levels that could cause safety issues during crane operation
Once trained and certified, overhead crane operators must remain in compliance through continuing education and testing to maintain their crane inspection certification. In addition, crane inspectors must have formal training in any areas of safety and design that may be applicable to the safe operation of an overhead or gantry crane, as well as of local, state, and federal codes, report writing and procedures for documentation, terminology, and safe operating procedures for this type of heavy equipment.
Now that you have a better understanding of how overhead cranes are inspected, it will be easier to find a rental company that you can trust to supply safe, properly maintained and inspected cranes. Remember, however, that any overhead crane company that seems unwilling to provide information about their inspection process may not be in compliance with current inspection regulations. Even worse, they may be using overhead cranes that are poorly maintained. A reputable, compliant overhead crane rental company will understand your focus on safety and welcome your questions every time you call.