Tips for Proper Crane Set Up and Assembly

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Outrigger pads

The safe set up of cranes is very important to a site and job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that between 1997 and 2006, there was an average of 82 deaths related to cranes every year. This is one of the reasons that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has specific regulations set up regarding cranes and their set up. They require cranes be assembled on firm ground. It must be graded and drained appropriately. Other safety and supporting materials such as stabilizer pads for cranes, mats and cribbing must be used to augment the crane’s levelness and support.

  • Your common sense is your friend. When you are working on your crane set up, if something does not feel right, stop and take stock of everything. If when you are reviewing everything from the stabilizer pads for cranes to the state of the ground you are working on, you find a problem, fix it. We have a gut sense for a reason and it is much too easy to slow down and check everything when you feel something is not right.
  • Watch the ground. You know that OSHA has requirements for the firmness of the ground upon which you are assembling your crane. There is a reason for these rules and regulations and it is not just to be annoying. You need to have a firm surface and then to use the right supporting equipment for your crane. You need the right stabilizer pads for cranes, rigging materials and crane mats to give your crane the appropriate amount of support. Follow the OSHA rules to the letter. The right ground protection mat can also make a big difference.
  • Keep your ground and soil bearing strength in mind. If you do not have the specific information about the area where you are working, you may want to consult a geotechnical engineer. It will cost you a lot less to get the correct advice and information from the appropriate experts before you start a job than to deal with a problem on the job afterwards. One other way is to perform a Dynamic Cone Penetrometer test. This can give you the information you need about the ability of the ground to handle the pressure you are going to apply to it with your crane.
  • Pay attention to the ground and soil. You can improve and strengthen the ground you are working on before you start. This can be accomplished by adding rock or another inorganic material to increase the density of the ground. Do what you can to dry out the soil before you start. If you have to wait for it to dry, that is what you will have to do. The consequences of working on soil that is too wet are too great to ignore.
  • Make sure your cribbing and outrigger equipment is strong enough for your needs. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers says your equipment has to be strong enough to withstand pressure that could cause it to bend, be crushed or fail under the weight of your other equipment. If it is not thick enough, it may not be able to support the full weight of the crane. You need to prevent any movement, sifting or undue settlement under the weight load.
  • Know your equipment. Before you start your job, you need to know the maximum pressure your equipment will exert and how much your equipment can handle. You should be able to get this for every crane make and model from the manufacturer. It is in their best interest to make available the most accurate information about their equipment. Make sure your equipment is the best and more appropriate for the work you are doing.
  • Use the right sized equipment. Make sure the stabilizer pads for cranes you use are sized correctly for the crane. If your stabilizer pads for cranes are too small, your crane assembly will be inherently unstable. If you get crane pads that are too big, you will waste a lot of money in transportation and labor costs. Make sure the way you determine what size of crane pad you need factors in the condition of the ground.

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