MRO Magazine

Crane safety training saves lives and money


June 14, 2001
By PEM Magazine

"Why should I train our crane operators? They already have years of experience."

It’s a question people frequently ask me.

The obvious reason for training crane operators is to prevent death or injury to operators and damage to the load, building or equipment. Training allows operators to reduce the hazards that bad habits and/or a lack of knowledge create. Because we are dealing with loads that are lifted into the air, the risks for serious injury, or worse, are very high. Every crane operator must be confident in his or her knowledge of accepted procedures and correct lifting practices.

He or she should have a thorough understanding of such areas as timely equipment inspections, recognition of a load and it’s influence on everything between the ground to the top of the lifting apparatus. This knowledge must include proper rigging of loads, awareness of all the component limitations and maintaining control of the load at all times.


Crane operators should be trained to recognize hazardous situations, so that they can avoid them before they lead to a calamity. Training establishes a procedure that enables operators to stabilize the situation.

The following are twelve critical questions that every crane operator must answer without hesitation.

1. How big is the primary danger zone?
2. What does one cubic foot of steel weigh and how can one determine the correct loading for an overhead crane?
3. What is the defined purpose of the hoist hook safety latch?
4. What is the accepted grade of a sling chain?
5. What is the minimum safe sling leg angle to use as a standard practice?
6. How does the angle affect the capacity of a sling?
7. What is resultant sling angle and why is it a killer?
8. How does an operator gain control of a swinging load?
9. What is the difference between a cable and a wire rope?
10. Are homemade lifting devices legal and what information is required on all below the hook devices?
11. What factor is used to de-rate the capacity of an eyebolt when the eyebolt is being used horizontally?
12. What OHSA-required safety precautions must be taken before working on a crane?

If the operator cannot answer all the above questions, the safe operation of the overhead crane and hoist is in jeopardy.

Proper training will prevent disaster and save lives but it will also increase the efficiency of workers operating hoists and cranes. This lowers the cost of production, making you more competitive. A quality safety course will reduce injuries, which in turn, reduces worker compensation claims, and therefore, lowers overall insurance costs.

In the event of an accident resulting from a safety violation, the Ministry of Labour can fine the operator for as much as $25,000 and/or imprison him or her for a term of up to twelve months. Corporations can be fined $500,000 per offense and judges can hand-down jail time for supervisory and executive personnel, depending on the circumstances.

Statistics show that proper training does make a difference. In addition to preventing damage and injury, correct usage of equipment means less repairs, early identification of possible problems, which means lower maintenance costs.

Joe Harnest is the president of Rival Material Handling in Burlington, Ontario. You can contact him at 905-978-9376 or via e-mail at