A Brief Guide to Construction Safety: What Causes Crane Accidents and How to Avoid Them

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Cranes play the most powerful (and most dangerous) role in construction operations. These pieces of machinery require a potentially harmful combination of heavy loads, strong forces and towering heights to function efficiently. With that, inattention to detail and improper safety practices can lead to tragic accidents and casualties.

Crane accidents may happen in any construction sites, causing deaths or injuries among workers and operators. In fact, accidents that have something to do with cranes are responsible for more than 20 deaths and dozens of injuries every year, according to the Center for Construction Research and Training. In such cases, it makes plenty of sense to implement and comply with strict safety guidelines for all crane operations. 

If you are working in a construction site or around the vicinity area, you must know that the hazardous effects of improper crane operation should never be understated. Project managers, operators, and all the workers nearby are responsible to identify the common causes of crane accidents as well as prevention tips to follow in order to reduce the odds of injuries and fatal accidents during the construction. 

What are the causes of cranes accidents? 

Improper Weight Calculations

There are different types of cranes built with specific functions and strict weight limits. Just because a mobile crane is designed to lift up heavy weights doesn’t mean it can carry all kinds of loads. Expert crane operators must know how to calculate the weight of objects to lift and make sure that none of them exceeds the weight limit. Always include the weight of chains and hooks when determining the overall weight. This way helps prevent accidents such as dropped loads and collapsed crane booms. Remember, when loads and booms fall apart, it can cause serious damage to the entire operation and major injuries (even death) to workers who are directly involved in the crane setup.   

Failed Rigging

Incorrect rigging of loads is another common cause of accidents due to dropped weights. This is often related to human error such as utilising broken parts to attach the loads to cranes or structures. With failed rigging, one false step can lead to the dropping of heavy loads and major accidents involved. To prevent the likelihood of accidents due to failed rigging, make sure to always inspect all the necessary parts including chains, cables, straps and hooks. Never push through with the operation if you find any failure in these elements for rigging.    

Poor Stabilisation of Outrigger

Any crane tipping accident is a high-profile cause of fatality for both crane operators and all the other workers surrounding the crane setup. While this kind of accident is thankfully rare, project managers still need to monitor the operation very carefully to avoid its extremely dangerous outcomes. So far, the most common cause of crane tipping or tilting is the unstable positioning of the outriggers. 

An outrigger is a stabilisation pad that extends from the lower parts of a crane to increase the machine’s stability. Poor stabilisation is often caused by unsuitable ground conditions such as voids, excavations, and uneven grading. To avoid accidents due to unstable outriggers, one must fully inspect every area to determine if the ground conditions are excellent for crane stability. Otherwise, if you cannot avoid such inopportune locations, make sure that you take some extra precautions by using additional supporting materials to ensure stability.     

Overhead Power Lines 

Electric lines may be very useful in today’s era, but they can interrupt with crane operations especially if the location is still using overhead power lines. Electrocution due to incidental linkage of cranes to above-ground electric lines is responsible for one out of 10 deaths in construction operations. 

Before construction workers proceed with the project, site managers must review the location to plan for a risk-free crane setup and ensure everyone’s safety throughout the entire operation.  


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