Tips for OSHA Crane Safety Standard

While the Crane Safety Standard from OSHA came out a number of years ago, it’s always good to review and refresh the Standard for Crane Safety from OSHA.  Cranes are heavy and complicated pieces of equipment and there are many types of cranes for specific types of jobs.  And according to OSHA, most deaths and injuries occur by electrocution, being crushed by parts of the equipment, being struck-by the equipment/load, and falls.  The OSHA Standard for Cranes and Derricks in Construction is expected to continue to save lives and prevent injuries.  

Most importantly, one of the best things an employer can do is to be sure that everyone involved in the assembly, disassembly, rigging and operation of a crane is properly trained, qualified and/or certified to do the work correctly and with safely awareness for the type of loads and lifts that are required by the job. 

Here are some key safety measures when using crane equipment on a jobsite:  

Use the Right Crane for the Job 

There are many types of cranes and ensuring safety begins with using the correct crane. Cranes are either mobile or fixed, with fixed cranes generally being used in industrial settings or in complex or tall construction projects. 

Comply With Training Requirements 

Safe operation of cranes demands trained personnel for setting up, rigging, signaling and operation. Crane operators must be certified by an accredited, third-party crane certification organization on the type of crane they are using. November 10, 2018 was the date for employers in the construction industry to comply with the requirement for crane operator certification. Additionally, all riggers and signal persons must be qualified. 

Perform Crane Inspections DAILY 

A crane operator must use a daily inspection checklist to ensure the crane is safe prior to operation. These checks include pre-start checks, engine start-up checks and safety system checks.  Additionally, operators will perform a series of hydraulic system checks, among a number of other regular inspections.  

Avoid or Clear Obstacles  

If a crane is mobile at the jobsite, it’s essential that a path is planned and cleared of all obstacles before operation.  Hazards that can’t be moved, like power lines or other permanent features, should be avoided, and the operator should always keep a safe distance. If the crane, load line, or load (including all rigging), will come within the minimum approach distance of energized power lines as listed in the regulation, further precautions must be taken, such as de-energizing the lines. 

Stabilize Before Rigging 

Mobile cranes use stabilizing equipment like outriggers to prevent the crane from tipping over during operation. Many crane accidents and tip-overs occur due to improper outrigger set up, so be certain that you’ve made a solid safety assessment of outrigger placement. 

Ground conditions should be firm, drained, and graded, and sufficient to support the weight of the crane. If outriggers and stabilizers are to be used, they must be fully extended. The controlling entity should make you aware of any hazards, such as voids or utilities.  

Rig the Load Correctly 

Proper rigging of loads prevents objects from falling and potentially striking workers on the site.  A complete understanding of force, weight distributions, and rigging techniques will ensure a safe, stable lift of even the most irregular and heavy loads.  A qualified rigger must be used for rigging operations during assembly/disassembly and other activities when workers must be in the fall zone. When using equipment like synthetic slings, the manufacturers’ instructions/procedures must always be followed. 

Load Radius is Important 

One of the most important concepts to understand is load radius, which is essentially the further away the load is from the center of the crane, the less weight the crane can manage without tipping over or collapsing.  Load radius is affected by the angle of the boom as well as the length of any extensions on a telescopic crane.  

Load Limits Are Vital 

Although many modern cranes include load indicators and rated capacity limiters, crane operators should still know how to read load charts to prepare for a safe lift. Load charts are the most essential tool for planning a safe lift and preventing crane failure or tip over. All rigging equipment must have legible tags that indicate the load capacity. 

Proper Communication and Standard Signals 

A signal person is required if the point of operation is not in full view of the crane operator, the view of direction of travel is obstructed, or if there are other safety concerns. There is a standard set of hand signals and communication protocols to facilitate safe operation of cranes.  

A qualified signal person can effectively communicate information throughout the lift to a crane operator, who can therefore adapt to changes in the lift situation as they occur. 

A signal person should always lead the crane during travel, and make sure to alert the crane operator to potential hazards and workers about the crane movement.  The signal person must be qualified by either a third-party organization or the employer, and documentation must be available. 

Maintain Safety Inspections 

Inspections of the crane and related equipment must be completed and documented monthly by a competent person. Keep inspection documents for at least 3 months. In addition, an annual inspection must be completed by a qualified person or third-party crane inspection company. Proper documentation should be kept for at least 12 months. 

There are many factors to be taken into consideration when working with cranes on a jobsite.  Cranes and crane safety are complex and require a lot of training and equipment knowledge.   

Compliance Consultants, Inc. can help you maintain updated training, site compliance and documentation for your workplace.   

Contact us today!


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OSHA- Additional Resources

OSHA Compliance Assistance

OSHA Fact Sheet (pdf/2010)

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.