A phone starts ringing in a small town in India, slowly a small framed, middle aged woman with long black hair with just a hint of gray showing walks over to the phone and answers it. Within a minute her world is shattered, she has just been informed that her husband of 21 years is dead. She just stands there in total disbelief and shock with a steady stream of tears rolling down the sides of her face. How will she tell her children that their father is dead? How will they survive now? What happened, you may be asking yourself? Her husband was caught between a cranes swing radius and the superstructure and died from his injuries. Now a wife has lost a husband, two children have lost a father and their worlds will never be the same again.
These types of accidents should never happen. All we have to do is follow OHSA’s crane standards and these types of deaths can be avoided. A family never has to experience the loss of a loved one.
OSHA requires in 1926.1424, Work area control. That section requires that workers who are near equipment with a rotating superstructure be trained in the hazards involved, that employers mark or barricade the area covered by the rotating superstructure, and that the operator be notified whenever a worker must enter that area, and instructed not rotate the superstructure until the area is clear. Protection against being struck by a counterweight during assembly or disassembly is provided by (OSHA, 2016).
OSHA’s Subpart M Cranes Standard:
Swing radius hazards.
The requirements in paragraph (a)(2) of this section apply where there are accessible areas in which the equipment’s rotating superstructure (whether permanently or temporarily mounted) poses a reasonably foreseeable risk of:
Striking and injuring an employee; or
Pinching/crushing an employee against another part of the equipment or another object.
To prevent employees from entering these hazard areas, the employer must:
Train each employee assigned to work on or near the equipment (“authorized personnel”) in how to recognize struck-by and pinch/crush hazard areas posed by the rotating superstructure.
Erect and maintain control lines, warning lines, railings or similar barriers to mark the boundaries of the hazard areas. Exception: When the employer can demonstrate that it is neither feasible to erect such barriers on the ground nor on the equipment, the hazard areas must be clearly marked by a combination of warning signs (such as “Danger–Swing/Crush Zone”) and high visibility markings on the equipment that identify the hazard areas. In addition, the employer must train each employee to understand what these markings signify.
Protecting employees in the hazard area.
Before an employee goes to a location in the hazard area that is out of view of the operator, the employee (or someone instructed by the employee) must ensure that the operator is informed that he/she is going to that location.
Where the operator knows that an employee went to a location covered by paragraph (a)(1) of this section, the operator must not rotate the superstructure until the operator is informed in accordance with a pre-arranged system of communication that the employee is in a safe position.
Where any part of a crane/derrick is within the working radius of another crane/derrick, the controlling entity must institute a system to coordinate operations. If there is no controlling entity, the employer (if there is only one employer operating the multiple pieces of equipment), or employers, must institute such a system.
If we put these simple rules into effect, we will be meeting our legal and moral requirements to provide employees with a safe work place/site. Managing risk is a critical part of every manager’s job. To do this we must control access into and around cranes at all times when lift operations are ongoing. Simply putting up a few strips of barricade tape is not meeting the intent of OSHA’s crane standards. To meet the standard we must ensure that: 1. Controlled access into the swing radius areas of cranes and lifting activities with proper barrication is a must. 2. The posting of signage warning employees of the hazards of the cranes swing radius is used. 3. Lifting and rigging crews controlling access of employees into lifting areas and the swing radius of the crane. 4. Crane signalmen keeping crane operators informed when anyone is within the cranes swing radius and stopping operations until clear. 5. Employees are properly trained on crane hazards and the importance of never entering any cranes swing radius during crane lifting operations.
By implementing OSHAs requirements along with other safety measures, we can and will prevent anyone from having to receive a phone call or a visit to inform them that their loved has died because of another accident involving a crane and its swing radius. No wife should ever have to tell her children, that their father will not be coming home today.
What are you doing to protect workers from the swing radius of cranes?
OSHA Subpart CC Standard 1926. (OSHA, 2016). Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=73
OSHA Required Danger Crane Swing Radius Warning Signage.
Improperly Barricaded Crane Swing Radius.
Barricaded Swing Radius.
Not properly barricaded swing radius.