Category Archive: Preventing Warehouse Accidents

When It Comes To Best Practices In Overhead Lifting Safety, Pay Attention To The Details

As with so many things in life, it’s the little things that make a big difference. The same holds true of overhead lifting equipment and its operation: paying attention to the small details can have a big impact on the safety and productivity of a facility.

That’s why the Crane Manufacturers Association of America (CMAA), an organization dedicated to promoting the standardization of crane design and operation — as well as uniform quality and performance — works hard to meet its mission. That is, to deliver technical specifications and resources that promote safety in the design, operation, and maintenance of overhead cranes.

Even after poring over those specifications, standards, and resources, owners and operators of cranes often still have questions. Many of those questions surround some of the key details that should be taken into consideration when buying, operating, maintaining, and inspecting overhead lifting equipment.

For that reason, CMAA — along with its partners in MHI’s Overhead Alliance, the Hoist Manufacturers Institute (HMI), and the Monorail Manufacturers Association (MMA) —worked together to develop their latest publication, the Overhead Lifting Best Practices Guide. The document was written in collaboration with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The Overhead Lifting Best Practices Guide gives owners and operators of overhead lifting equipment a comprehensive, single-source reference about some of the key tools and techniques — including the little details — that contribute to a safer operation. As the current President of CMAA and having worked in the industry myself for 20 years, I have seen the operational safety and productivity benefits that result from following these guidelines and standards. The 18 best-practice topics include:

  • Qualifications of overhead crane and hoist operator to ensure that personnel have been properly trained to safely use the equipment.
  • Fall protection for crane structures, specifically lifelines and harnesses that have been properly designed to prevent or stop the accidental fall of workers and their tools while working at height.
  • Capacity markings on cranes, hoists, and monorails to indicate to an operator the maximum rated load the system was designed to handle.
  • Safety signs — such as decals, labels, placards, cord tags, or other markings — indicate hazards and the safety precautions that should be taken to avoid them.
  • Audible and visible warning alarms that indicate to the operator and other personnel in the area of the crane’s operation that the equipment is in use.
  • Load tests to verify that the equipment will perform all functions (lift, lower, travel the length of the bridge and of the runway) while supporting a test load equal to the maximum rated capacity of the equipment. These are performed at commissioning, after any modifications are made, and during certain inspections.
  • Conductor bar systems, specifically bare uninsulated copper wire conductors positioned along the length of a runway to supply power to overhead equipment, and a fourth, unpowered bar for grounding the system.
  • Conductor bar guards and how to attach and maintain them so that they prevent inadvertent contact of power wires with hoist ropes, block, or load.
  • Upper limit switches are designed to cut off the power automatically at (or near) the maximum limit of travel for a crane motion, such as lift/lower, trolley traverse, or bridge traverse. This prevents damage to the overhead equipment that may result in a load drop.
  • E-stops and safety disconnects, their location, accessibility, and how they are to be used to cut off the power to the overhead handling equipment outside of the regular operating controls in the event of an emergency or loss of control.
  • E-stops for powered, below-the-hook devices that attach a load to the hook, such as vacuum lifters, electro-magnets, and grippers. These E-stops operate independently of the overall crane system, allowing the operator to disengage the power solely for the below-the-hook device if an emergency or malfunction occurs.
  • Runway disconnect switches provide a backup to an E-stop as a second means to disconnect power to the crane if a malfunction or emergency happens.
  • Rail sweeps, mounted in front of the wheels on bridge and trolley end trucks, ensure that any debris or obstructions in the travel path are bumped off the railway. They prevent damage to crane wheels, axles, and bearings, as well as stop objects from passing between the rail and wheels, which could cause a derailment.
  • Trolley and bridge bumpers made of rubber, polyurethane, springs, or a hydraulic device that minimizes the force of an impact when a trolley or bridge reaches the end of its permitted travel or contacts the rail end stops at a high rate of speed. They prevent structural damage to the crane, runway, and building and should be routinely maintained and inspected.
  • Bridge and trolley brakes for slowing, stopping, holding, and controlling motion. Operators should be trained in their proper use. They save wear and tear on the bridge and trolley, as well as prevent a load from running into and damaging equipment or injuring personnel. They should be routinely maintained and inspected.
  • Guards for couplings and line shafts, whether fixed or removable, serve as a safety barrier that prevents access to dangerous areas. Any moving parts of a crane or hoist that might pose a hazard during normal operation must be guarded to prevent injury.
  • End stops limit trolley or crane bridge travel. Typically mounted to a fixed structure, they prevent damage to the equipment and are designed to engage the full surface of a bumper. They should be maintained and inspected regularly.
  • Chain containers capture and store slack hoist chains on the no-load side of the load sheave. Their use is recommended when an excess load chain is likely to interfere with the load or to create a hazard to operations or personnel.

Many of the 18 topics discussed are covered by requirements outside of those from CMAA, HMI, MMA, and OSHA. Pertinent standards from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and the National Electrical Code (NEC) are also included. Each topic has a list of best practices for how to interpret those requirements, as well as how to implement or follow their directions, to create the safest overhead lifting environment possible.

Overhead Lifting Best Practices Guide is offered as a free download. I encourage you to add a copy to your library of resources. If you have any questions about the topics it covers — or about any other best practices in the safe operation and maintenance of your overhead handling equipment and its numerous safety features and devices — don’t hesitate to connect with American Crane. Our online Resources Library includes a collection of informative eBooks, videos, CAD drawings, photos, and a crane glossary.

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Contact us. We’re happy to help. 

6 Tips for Increasing Crane Safety in Your Facility

Over the past 50 years, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) specifications for crane safety have remained relatively unchanged. To begin enhancing the training and safety opportunities in the overhead lifting industry, OSHA has recently renewed a five-year alliance with the Crane, Hoist and Monorail Alliance (CHM).

A yellow caution sign warns of the need for safety glasses.The partnership demonstrates OSHA’s confidence in CHM as a trusted resource in an ongoing effort to increase workers’ safety. In a recent EHS Today article, OSHA’s Assistant Secretary of Labor Dr. David Michaels said, “Our alliance with CHM has been invaluable in helping to reduce and prevent serious or fatal incidents in the material handling industry.”

To follow the example that these industry leaders have set, here are six ways that you can increase crane safety within your own facility:

  1. Create Accountability with Your Inspection — Develop written guidelines for your crane and hoist inspection and maintenance programs; implement this code to train every operator on proper crane equipment use and safety protocol.
  2. Schedule Your Inspections — Create a pre-planned schedule to stay on top of equipment functionality through preventative maintenance. Having a schedule will help to avert any breakdown repairs by ensuring that your equipment always meets the necessary safety requirements.
  3. Read the Manual — It may sound silly, but it is crucial that every operator has read the manufacturers’ operation manuals. Implementing this practice will add an extra level of protection at your facility.
  4. Conduct Pre-Shift Inspections — Crane operators should understand the applicable OSHA, national, state, and local inspection requirements for their machinery and ensure that all products are in compliance with these specifications at the start of each shift.
  5. Implement a Lockout/Tagout Procedure — Lockout procedures safeguard employees by cutting equipment off from the energy source before any maintenance work. This precaution helps prevent accidental or unexpected operation from stored energy, as well as the resulting risk of injury.
  6. Know Your Equipment’s Limits — Employees should always be aware of crane load limits as well as the capacities of each payload.

By taking these simple precautions, you can increase everyday workplace safety for your operators. To learn more about how to increase crane safety in your facility, we invite you to download our maintenance troubleshooting guide, “What Your Cranes Wish You Knew.”

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How to Improve Safety & Efficiency with Aerospace Critical Lifts

When you have an aerospace critical lift that could impact your project or the environment, it’s doubly important to follow all the proper procedures for safety and compliance. Many people are unsure of the exact legal requirements and the best way to ensure compliance. Here is a brief rundown on managing critical aerospace lifts.

Identifying Critical Lifts

A lift is considered critical if it has one or more of the following characteristics:

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  1. If loss of control over the lifted item could invoke a declaration of a site emergency per the governing regulations such as NASA-STD- 8719.9.
  2. If the item to be lifted is vital to the project schedule or irreplaceable.
  3. If the item is lost during the lift, the resulting impact on cost or schedule might jeopardize program commitments.
  4. If the lift occurs in close proximity to items that fit any of the definitions in items 1 through 3.
  5. If the load exceeds 80 percent of the crane’s capacity, it is critical. If two cranes are used and the lift weight exceeds 75 percent of the rated capacity of one of the cranes, it is also considered critical.

Aerospace Critical Lift Requirements

If your planned lift fits into any of these categories, you are required to take certain safety precautions. The precautions may vary depending on the characteristics of the lift, but almost every aerospace critical lift will require specific safety precautions.

Lift Supervisor

This person is responsible for ensuring that every member of the lift team understands their role and has the proper training. The Lift Supervisor must also confirm that the equipment has been properly inspected and has the right safety ratings to safely carry out the lift plan.

Safety Representative

The Safety Representative cannot be the same individual as the Lift Supervisor. The Safety Representative is responsible for reviewing and checking all inspections, the lift plan, and must be on site during the lift to monitor the process and ensure adherence to the plan.

Critical Lift Plan

The Critical Lift Plan includes both a Hazard Report and a Lift Procedure. The entire team, but especially the Lift Supervisor and the Safety Representative should be familiar with the details of the plan.

Safety Review Meeting

Before undertaking the lift, the team must hold a Safety Review Meeting to ensure that all team members have a firm grasp on their roles and all lift procedures. The meeting can be held up to two weeks prior to the lift for very complex lifts, but two to three days is more common.

Equipment Requirements

For aerospace critical lifts, you must use equipment rated to handle the necessary load plus a margin of error. The equipment must meet these requirements whether it is leased or owned and must meet  minimum load rating for every item used in the lift, including rigging, jigs, cables and hoists.

American Crane Aerospace Equipment is designed to meet the requirements of aerospace critical lifts. American Crane Critical Lift Cranes are designed for durability, reliability and safeguarding equipment during lifts and to comply with appropriate industry guidelines. With over 40 years of experience designing and building the industry’s most respected cranes, American Crane products offer custom design and fabrication and a complete in-house quality assurance program to comply with standards. Before shipment, all cranes are completely tested and fully assembled to meet CMAA duty cycle requirements.

Inspections

You must have certificates of inspection and original rating certificates for all equipment. These should be part of the Lift Plan and reviewed and validated in the Safety Meetings.

If you are responsible for managing a project or program that may include an aerospace critical lift, consider working with the experienced team at American Crane. Our team of experts provide high quality equipment, safety and reliability in every aerospace critical lift.

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