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  • Writer's picture24/7 Lifting

Common Overhead Crane Hazards

In any industry, anticipating and proactively handling problems results in greater success than reactively responding to an incident. Working in the world of construction and manufacturing, hazards are always present on a job site, but with the proper training and preparation, most issues are completely preventable.

Keeping those involved safe requires all operators and workers to understand the most common safety hazards and how to recognize them. Read on below to learn about the potential risks involved with overhead cranes and their accompanying preventative measures.

Electrical Hazards

Almost 50% of overhead crane accidents are caused by machinery coming into contact with a power source during operation. Typically this occurs as a crane moves materials close to or under energized power lines and the hoist line or boom comes into contact with the electrical source. This issue (half of all hazards associated with overhead cranes) can easily be prevented with safety planning.

Before the cranes even arrive on the worksite, establish who is in charge of pre-job safety. All danger zones should be marked, specifically the 10-foot radius of every power line as that entire area is considered an unsafe work space. Mark the 10-foot radius with barriers, fences, tape, etc. in order to provide clear visual clues for workers to ensure the boom and hoist line will not enter the danger zone.

In addition, ask electrical companies to de-energize or ground power lines whenever people are working near them. But until specifically informed by the electrical company, operators should assume all power lines are energized and dangerous. As a final preventative step, make sure that any ladders, tools, and systems being used on the work site are non-conductive.


Exceeding a crane’s operational capacity causes 80% of all crane accidents and structural failures. Overloading can be caused by the following:

  • Swinging or sudden dropping of the load

  • Defective components

  • Hoisting a load beyond capacity

  • Dragging a load

  • Side-loading a boom

Most of these are the result of predictable human error. Formal training of operators should ensure a working knowledge of crane load charts, lifting capacities, and the conditions under which the stated lifting capacities are valid. Operators should never rely on instinct or experience to determine if the weight of a load is correct.

Materials Falling

The best way to reduce the risk of materials falling from cranes is to perform regular maintenance of hoists. For example, load testing maintenance ensures that you know how many pounds the hoist can handle and also provides an indication of how well the hoist currently functions. You can also reduce the chance of mechanical failure by performing daily crane inspections. Be sure though that when a problem is identified, that the operators use the lockout/tagout procedure. This prevents accidental startup or movement of the crane until the machine is repaired.

Protective Work Wear

Though obvious, it should be stated too that workers always need to wear the proper head, foot, hand, and eye protection while on the job site. They also need to constantly be aware of their surroundings so they don’t accidentally walk under a suspended load. Don’t assume either that the crane operator sees you if you’re walking by, make sure they acknowledge you first.

Here at 24/7 Lifting, Inc., safety and prevention are our number one priorities. Because of this, we ensure that all of our machines are kept well maintained and up-to-date, ensuring that you’re getting the most effective and reliable equipment available. See all of our available equipment for rent today (with or without operator) to find the crane for your next big project.

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