Back in 2000 I wrote an article for Plant Engineering and Maintenance Magazine entitled “What Crane Operators Need to Know” Therein is a list of 12 items that I had considered to be essential information required for the proper operation of bridge cranes

I have recently reviewed this article and while the items listed remain important, I have come to view crane operation a little differently in my old age. So in consideration of the questions I have been asked, the crane lifts I have witnessed, lifting audits I have conducted and all the reports of crane accidents, here is my revised 2014 version.

1) All of the equipment we use for lifting MUST be inspected, if not constantly, then certainly consistently.

2) The most obvious things like equipment capacities and general heightened awareness etc are important for crane operators to understand, but it is the little things like failing to properly inspect each time, understanding the proper use of eye bolts and the limitations of lifting accessories, for example, that get crane operators in trouble.

3) Crane operators must trust their instincts and act on them when they get that distinct feeling that things are just not right. When this occurs STOP what you are doing or about to do, review the risks, then revise your activity.

4) Planning is an essential element to crane operation, selecting the right slings for a job is one thing, having the correct slings available to complete the task is a matter of planning. There are many instances where a little thought beforehand could have averted an accident.

5) Operators need to understand the consequences of the next action they are to undertake, what are the risks and then consider the actions that would minimize them.

6) Short cuts and chances, these can be so tempting, like the original sin, resist the urge to bite into this apple.

7) Each crane, just like our automobiles, has its own peculiarities, take it slow and allow your own comfort level to determine the speed at which the work is done.

8) Quality training is not an inconvenience it is essential. Choose a training program on its merits. The qualifications and experience of the trainer on the subject matter does count.

9) Lifting things into the air with a crane is unlike most other work. Every lift is a battle fought with Mother Nature, specifically gravity; the smallest error made can lead to disaster.

10) Everything has its limits, the law says that all lifting apparatus must be properly marked, if it isn’t or you have cause to doubt the information, do not use this equipment

11) The primary danger zone is a concern for all people in the area where a load is to be lifted. The operator is fully responsible for the load and people around it once it has left the ground.

12) There are many ways to rig a load, many fewer are properly secure. The load should be just as secure in the air as it was on the ground.

The list above is not complete by any means, nor is the list provided in any particular sequence of importance.

Having successfully reached my golden years completely in one piece, I am pleased to provide this update. Do not depend upon luck to get you through, it is clear that luck will eventually run out.
Joe Harnest
Crane Training Canada