When operating heavy-duty machinery like a crane, safety should always be a priority. As much as cranes make our lives easier, they can be extremely dangerous if handled improperly or not maintained adequately. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that cranes be inspected once a year at a minimum, but depending on usage frequency, you may need your crane to be inspected weekly or even daily.
Different Types of Inspections
OSHA has differentiated inspections into two categories: frequent inspections and periodic inspections. Frequent inspections are conducted daily or monthly depending on the conditions your crane is working in. For cranes operating normally, a monthly inspection is satisfactory. Cranes that are in severe service such as cement mills, lumber mills, fertilizer plants and shipping container handling will need to be inspected daily. Frequent inspections focus on operating mechanisms, hydraulic and air systems, as well as hook and hoist chains.
Periodic inspections must be performed annually for normal service cranes, and quarterly for severe service cranes. These inspections differ from frequent inspections in that they focus on deformed, cracked, corroded or loose parts of the crane. A periodic inspection is really trying to gauge the wear and tear on your crane to make sure it does not require any new parts or repairs. Your inspector should also check electrical systems, load and wind indicators, as well as gasoline and diesel power plants.
There are also inspections that you should conduct daily, or at least before each shift, to ensure that your crane is able to operate properly. Your crane operators should do a visual safety check on the following areas:
- Bottom block assembly
- Wire rope
- Load chain
- Bridge and trolley motor brake
- Fire extinguisher and emergency exit
- Air and hydraulic lines
Nowadays, there is software to help streamline these daily safety checks. You can install a mobile app on a company device so that your operators can quickly run through a safety checklist and keep all your data stored electronically. Using this kind of technology also means your employees can snap photos of possible problem areas and include this in their report.
Who is Qualified to Inspect My Crane?
As important as it is to get your crane inspected, just as paramount is choosing the right person for the job. You will want to find a crane inspector who has at least 2,000 hours of field experience in maintenance, service, and repair of the specific type of crane you are working with. The inspector should be familiar with local, state and federal standards for your crane, and the OSHA specified safety standards for cranes.
Don’t Skimp on Safety
Make sure that after each inspection you keep paperwork that is signed and dated by the inspector. These documents are important to refer to when scheduling your next inspection, and can be used as evidence to show that you take safety seriously if an accident does occur. Never try to stretch the duration between safety inspections, as this can lead to serious injury and even the cancellation of your crane permit.