Every day on job sites around America, workers count on heavy machinery to help them perform important jobs. Whenever a crane moves a heavy load, there is a risk to people and property that cannot be overlooked. A common saying states that “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” To be sure, an important link in the safe operation of any crane on your job site involves the safety training your rigging company has received.

A quick review of the data shows that 90 percent of all crane-related accidents are the result of human error. That is why training your team in the safe operation of a crane and its rigging are imperative to running a safe job site.

The Risks of Careless Rigging

The most dangerous risk that comes with unsafe rigging is serious injury or even the loss of human life. The heavy loads that cranes are asked to take on every day must be treated with great respect.

Beyond the risk to the people who work with heavy equipment every day, there is also a risk to the load that the crane is carrying and the crane itself. Damage to property or loss of life carries heavy prices for all involved, both financially and otherwise.

Causes of Accidental Drops

One of the more dangerous risks associated with crane operation is the accidental drop. Most often, accidental drops are caused due to an unsafe angle load or the angle of the load being lifted in relation to level ground. Crane operators need to be careful to ensure that such angles never exceed 10 percent and try to stay as close to zero as possible. The risk of load slippage increases exponentially above 10 percent and, with it, the risk of an accident.

Another cause of accidental drops is the use of an improper or damaged sling. Whether the sling is made of wire rope, chain, metal mesh or another synthetic material, it should be checked for damage before each use. Worn wires, corrosion of the sling’s finish, breakage of any type, wire kinks, crushed components or relaxing strands can all present hazards.

In addition to making sure your load angle is proper and your sling is not damaged, you should also observe the hooks that connect the crane to the sling. Never use a hook with a broken or missing safety latch. If the hook is bent in any way, you should also consider replacing it before attempting a lift.

Communication Is Key

Cranes and the environment they operate in are noisy by nature. Therefore, it’s important that your team knows how to communicate with each other without speaking to prevent accidental drops. The use of correct hand signal gestures as a means of communication resolves any miscommunication errors.

Anyone that will be working with your rigging company should be trained in the proper hand signals, and they should be used any time the load is in the air.

General Safety Rules for Crane Rigging

There are some other general rules for helping your rigging company avoid accidental drops as well.

Don’t operate a crane when lightning has been spotted in the area.
Lifting should always be performed with the crane arm after a full understanding of the load chart
Before lifting heavy loads, make sure the total weight of the load does not exceed the capacity of the crane.

By respecting the observed safety rules for crane operation, you can help limit or eliminate the number of accidental drop incidents experienced by your rigging company.