Back in 2000 I wrote an article for an industrial magazine entitled “What Crane Operators Need to Know” Therein is a list of 12 items that are essential information required for the proper operation of bridge cranes. I have presumed that all of the people involved with the lift are trained and are therefore competent.

I have recently reviewed this article and while these original items remain important, I have come to view crane operation a little differently in my old age. So here is my revised 2014 list If anyone is interested you can view the original year 2,000 version at our website at

1) All of the equipment we use for lifting must be checked over, if not constantly, then certainly consistently at least once a day.

2) The apparent things like capacity and heightened awareness etc are important for crane operators to understand, but it is the little things like understanding the proper use of eye bolts, the effect of angles on slings and understanding clearly where people should be in proximity to the raised load, among other little things, that get crane operators into trouble. Pay attention.

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

4) Planning is an essential element to safe crane operation, selecting the right slings for a job is one thing, having the correct slings available to complete the task, making sure that the landing area is secure is a matter of planning.

5) Operators need to understand the consequences of the next action, review the risks, then determine the alternative actions available to minimize them.

6) About Short cuts and chances; these can be so tempting, like the original sin, do not bite into this apple. All equipment and accessories used in lifting must be inspected. I have always maintained that the inspection never stops, the operator should pay attention to the equipment throughout every lift.

7) Each crane, just like your automobile, has its own peculiarities, take it slow and allow your comfort level to determine the speed. Unless you are reckless, in which case you should not be operating a crane, your experience determines the speed at which the work gets done.

8) Quality training is not an inconvenience it is essential.

9) Crane operators must understand that lifting things into the air with a crane is unlike most other work. It is a constant battle fought with mother nature, specifically gravity, the smallest error can lead to disaster. There is no place for daydreaming or distractions from the task at hand, at any time.

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 for any reason, do not use this equipment. Tag it out immediately and report it to your supervisor.

11) The upper limit switch on a crane is a safety device, only to be activated as part of the inspection and never with a load on the hook. QA secondary operational limit switch is required if it is necessary to go all the way to the raised hook position with the crane.

12) Reversed phasing, where all control motions are functioning backwards is absolute justification for a crane tag out.

If you would like to access the original article you can find it on our website at