Safety First: What Can Go Wrong with Hoists and Cranes

April 26, 2023 at 4:00 AM

Hoists and cranes are essential tools for just about any major engineering project. They allow humans to move extremely heavy objects over just about any type of terrain, but, if not used properly, they can also be extremely dangerous.

Operating these kinds of machinery requires extensive training, but even the most trained individuals can make mistakes that result in either damage to property or potentially serious injuries. Anytime you plan on using one, it’s always helpful to keep these common safety hazards in mind.

Common hoist and crane safety hazards.

Choosing the wrong piece of equipment.

No single hoist or crane is designed to handle any type of job. They all serve very specific functions, and if you choose the wrong one for your job, you could put your crew in danger before anyone ever fires up the machinery. For example, carry deck cranes may be highly mobile, but they don’t handle rough terrain well. Instead, you’d want an all-terrain crane that can traverse just about any job site. Always make sure you have the right equipment before starting a project.

Falling materials.

This can happen very easily if proper precautions aren’t put in place during a job. Machinery can malfunction, chains can break free, and operating errors can occur. If it does happen, it can pose a serious risk to anyone near the job site or any nearby property. An effective way to minimize this type of risk is to include barriers and netting or set up an anti-falling system to protect your workers and the site itself.

Overloading the equipment.

Every hoist and crane is designed to handle a maximum payload, and if you exceed that limit, it can lead to many potential risks. This is called overloading, and when it happens, it increases the risk of problems like damage to the machinery itself, diminished structural integrity, or even complete failure. However, it’s not just about trying to handle a load above capacity. It can also happen when swinging, dragging, or dropping a load suddenly or by loading it outside of the crane’s center of gravity.

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Electrical hazards.

As your crew operates their hoists and cranes, they run the risk of coming into contact with a power source of some kind, and this endangers anyone touching the crane or in the direct vicinity. An electrical hazard can cause serious harm to your people and your equipment, but there are measures you can take to prevent it from happening. The first is careful safety planning to ensure everyone maintains safe distances from power sources. Everyone also needs to be very aware of where those power sources are in relation to the machinery. For certain projects, you can also ask electrical companies to de-energize or ground power lines while you’re working.

Pinch points.

Many versions of this type of equipment can move at the base. That makes it easier for the operator to place the load where it needs to go, but it also creates dangerous health hazards for anyone in the vicinity. While the base is in motion, it creates pinch points that can trap surrounding workers and harm them. Again, careful safety planning and situational awareness by everyone involved can help prevent this type of hazard.

Make sure you have the right equipment for your job.

If you plan on using hoists and cranes for an upcoming project, make reaching out to the experts at T&M Cranes your first step. We’ve specialized in overhead cranes, hoists, parts, and ongoing service since 1974, and we can help you have confidence that you have the right machinery to get your job done the right way. You can browse some of our equipment online or get in touch today to schedule your free quote.