Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Inspection Vital for Crane Safety

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Inspection Vital for Crane Safety

Article excerpt

Following an accident, OSHA inspected the construction worksite in Conshohocken, Pa., of Carson/Kent. The inspection resulted in a citation alleging a serious violation of CFR 1926.550(a)(5) for failure to designate a competent person to inspect a crane prior to each use, and during use, to make sure it is in safe operating condition. Proposed penalty: $3,400.

The accident happened on Dec. 26, 1990, when the jib and tower of the crane in use at the construction site collapsed backwards over the cab. No one was injured. The record indicated that it was undisputed that just before the accident, the crane's boom cables were bunched in a heap at the rear of the crane. Since the jib is supported by these cables, it collapsed.

Within a month of the accident, an OSHA compliance officer inspected the construction site and interviewed the crane operator who said his inspection consisted only of running the crane's load line to warm up the sheaves or pulleys. The compliance officer testified that the second crane operator had left the job site and was, therefore, unavailable for interview by the compliance officer. However, the first crane operator said that the second crane operator had stood beside him inside the crane cab, according to the OSHA inspector.

During the Jan. 30, 1991, inspection, the OSHA compliance officer observed that the pins, which secure the locking mechanisms for the outrigger pads of a hydraulic crane in operation, were either damaged or missing. The compliance officer maintained that this condition would be hazardous, if the operator lifted a heavy load thereby transferring the crane's weight from the rear outriggers to the fore outriggers. The compliance officer contended that the outrigger pad would not be able to support the shift of weight, thus causing the crane to be unstable.

The case record indicates that it was undisputed that Carson assigned two operators to the crawler crane at the time of the accident. The first operated the crane, and the second's primary assignment was to monitor its mechanical functions.

When the company contested the citation, OSHA contended at the hearing that the language of the cited standard that inspections should be conducted "prior to use, and during use" means that the second operator should have been observing the crane's mechanical operations at all times. …

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