In 2015/2016 alone, an estimated 621,000 workers in the UK sustained non-fatal injuries while at work. (Labour Force Survey - LFS). Of these, 20% were injured while handling, carrying or moving heavy loads. Statistics like these further strengthen the case for ensuring safe work practices everywhere. It almost seems as though we’re not doing enough. It is therefore imperative that certain safety measures are followed to reduce the risk of injuries or loss of life, particularly in situations where heavy lifting machinery is involved. Take a look at this article on safe crane working practices.
Implementing safe crane working practices
The first and foremost aspect to safe crane working practices is to have properly trained and qualified workers and supervisors in the workplace. Of course, lack of compliance in this area impacts the health and safety of workers, but additionally it leads to legal action and fines. In 2015/2016 the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted 696 cases, which led to fines of £38.3 million
Crane safety measures contribute to a safe and compliant workplace.
The operation of cranes requires compliance with the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER). It is important to ensure that all workers are properly trained in moving and handling procedures and are aware of the implications and the application of the laws referred to above.
The second important factor is to ensure that operators have a valid CITB certificate of training along with a CPCS card to operate the right category of cranes. They must also be trained to operate the equipment under competent supervision. It is the duty of the operator to inspect the machinery every week and record the results of their inspection in a register. It is also the operator’s duty to ensure that the crane is left in a safe condition when unattended, with the machine switched off and the keys removed. These checks can prevent unnecessary accidents in the work environment. Operators need to undergo medical checks at least every five years to ensure that they are fit to carry out their duties. Slingers/signallers must hold a valid CPCS card for slinging and signalling. Where there is more than one crane, a crane co-ordinator must be deployed to plan the sequence of crane movements in order to prevent collisions.
Common accidents involving lifting of loads
Crushing can occur if a moving object or load falls from a height when lifting, or slips out of a vehicle. This occurs if the load is not properly harnessed or if the wrong type of sling is in use when lifting or moving loads. Crushing can cause severe injuries and even death. The best way to prevent such accidents in the work place is to ensure that the load is properly secured using the right kind of sling.
Sometimes cranes can topple over if they are not properly bolted to the floor, or if the load exceeds safe weight limits. Preventive checks undertaken by supervisors can reduce the risk of such occurrences. Mobile platforms are another cause of accidents in the workplace. While lifting or moving a platform, it may slip and cause injury. Again, the platform must be secured properly to prevent such accidents. If the load is overhead, then the employers must supply the workers with protective gear. The machinery should be regularly checked for damage and repairs must be made on time.
Additional tips for accident prevention
In addition to focusing on safety norms during operation, there are many additional areas of consideration that are important factors in ensuring safety of cranes.
- Planning of lifting operations is an important area that can contribute to safe working practices.
- Planning involves the selection of the right crane for the job according to its specifications. Special attention is required not to overload the crane, and proper planning can ensure that this does not happen.
- Particular attention needs to be given to the siting of cranes and ground conditions as these have an important impact on stability and safety of the crane operation.
- Due to the impact of loads on stability of the crane, larger cranes need to have adequate pile driving into the ground to ensure greater stability.
- All cranes have a maximum wind speed beyond which it is unsafe to operate the crane. During high wind speeds, the operation must be stopped immediately to ensure safety.
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