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3 Overhead Crane Safety Myths That Could Spell Disaster

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If you work in a plant that uses an overhead crane, safety must always come first to avoid serious injury or even possible death. However, there are certain myths floating around that could spell disaster if they are followed on a regular basis. Below are three of these myths and why they should not be believed.

Myth #1:  The Secondary Brake Makes It Safe To Be Under An Operating Crane

Since overhead cranes have a secondary braking system built into them, you may think this safety feature will keep you safe if you stand or walk underneath the cargo while it is in operation. However, this feature could malfunction for a couple of reasons that could cause the load to come crashing down with dire results.

First, the system is designed to hold a specific amount of weight. If the crane is routinely overloaded, the additional weight could cause stress on the brake gear. It could also put too much tension on the hoist cable, making it weak by stretching it. If the load shifts or is too heavy, the cable could snap or both the primary and secondary brakes could give out.

Second, the secondary brake could become worn when used over extended periods without proper maintenance. When not lubricated properly or inspected on a regular basis, they may no longer work correctly and could unexpectedly when needed.

Myth #2:  Pulling Cargo Situated On The Side Is Safe If It Is Under The Weight Capacity

Because of the crane's pulling power, some operators may decide to use it to pull cargo sideways off of a platform. While this seems to be a time saver, it could create a couple of problems with the crane that could make it unsafe to use.

The gears, pulleys, and hoist chain on the crane is designed to lift loads straight up, transport them in a straight line across the plant, and then set them straight down. When the crane is used to pull at an angle, it puts excessive pressure on it.

When pressure is placed on the crane, it could cause the outer housing to crack. It could also pull the pulleys and gears out of alignment, making their hardware unstable. If done too often, the pulleys could fall out of the crane, causing it to completely lose control of the load and making it unpredictable as to where it will land.

Myth #3:  Crane Inspections Only Need To Be Made Once A Week

Another myth surrounding overhead crane operation is they only need to be inspected for safety once a week. It is sometimes felt that if it worked well one day, there should be no problems using it the next. However, this is wrong.

OSHA requires that certain inspections tasks are performed every day and for good reason. When used constantly during work hours, cables can become frayed, the housing could become cracked, and the gears could strip. Any one of these could cause the crane to shift or lose the load.

Every morning before turning on the crane, a checklist should be followed. Items that need to be checked include the lubrication levels, the hoist chains and hook, and the mechanism adjustments. Anything found that could create a safety hazard has to be reported and repaired before operating the machinery.

Every time you operate an overhead crane at work, keep these myth-busting reasons in mind to ensure you and your coworkers stay safe. If you have any further concerns about safely operating your plant's particular model, you may want to contact the manufacturer of the overhead crane to discuss particular safety features and statistics.

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