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Is There Proper Overhead Crane Fall Protection At Your Site?

by Phil Lawrence

Large industrial overhead cranes rely on a lot of support from operators and technicians. They need to access to the crane and the crane's systems for purposes of maintenance, inspection, and operation. Without the proper fall protection in place, those operators and technicians are in very real danger.

What Is Your Current Fall Protection Setup?

It doesn't matter if you hire your own crane crew, or contract through a third party, you still need guidelines that cover elevated working conditions and fall protection. Those guidelines should spell out the following:

  • Who has access to cranes
  • Who has access to the crane and its location
  • The method for carrying materials up or down the access way
  • Instructions for handling emergencies
  • Assembly and disassembly procedures

There's a lot more these guidelines should cover. OSHA offers a detailed sample with instructions on how to go about setting these guidelines up properly.

Avoid the Quick Fixes

There are actually many fall protection products and services out there. Some of them have designs specifically for dealing with industrial cranes. However, it's not enough to order one of those generic fall protection systems; you need something specifically suited to your setup.

You also need proper training for using these fall protection products. To that end, a custom solution is always the best bet, even if you have a small operation. Safety protections, in general, are only useful if everybody knows how and when to use them.

In addition, your crane operator will need to know how to use the crane without disrupting the protections in place. Equally, everybody else will need to know how to maneuver around without disrupting those protections.

Fall protection often consists of tracking, cabling, and lanyards. These things can all go from help, to hindrance, to dangerous if those using them or around them aren't trained.

What Kind of Protections Do You Need?

The actual fall safety equipment you will need depends on the layout of your operation and specifically which area hosts the crane. In general, you will likely need the following:

  • Railing
  • Non-slip boom coverings
  • Retaining points for ladders
  • Service platforms

For those that work on the crane, you will need harnesses and retractable cabling to fill out your fall restraint or fall arrest system.

Plan Before You Purchase

Before you start purchasing safety equipment for your overhead crane, speak to a professional service about what protections will work best for your particular setup. You should also contact your local OSHA office, or look online, to see what kind of fall protection they require. Once you know that, you should go beyond the requirements.

Once you know what you need, you should source the parts from a supplier that knows cranes. Look for a seller of industrial cranes and related equipment. Fall protection is an overall plan for your site, but you may need specific equipment for your crane.