Leading safety hazards in the Crane Industry

The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) and The National Safety Council (NSC) have published a report based on the survey of safety hazards in the crane industry and the common risk related scenarios faced by those working with cranes. The survey, conducted last summer in the USA, was sent to around 100,000 individuals, with 2,170 participants actually contributing. A significant majority (85%) of respondents were crane operators.

The primary objective was and is to reduce workplace fatalities by assisting employers in adopting safety technologies. Between 2011 and 2017, there were 297 crane related deaths, with half of them resulting from being struck by objects or equipment. Falls accounted for 14 percent of the fatalities, while transport incidents made up 13 percent.

During the survey, participants were asked about their exposure to various risky situations while working. The top three hazardous situations mentioned were: Loading and unloading - 89 percent, interactions between vehicles and pedestrians - 64 percent and working at height 55 percent. These situations were also associated with systemic risks like heat stress/illness -75 percent, fatigue - 58 percent and being struck by falling objects - 55 percent.

Regarding injuries in the past two years, 80 percent reported that they had suffered no personal injuries, but 335 participants had experienced injuries, with falls from heights (17%) and being struck by falling objects (13%) being the most common. Systemic injuries were mainly attributed to heat stress (34%), followed by fatigue (27%) and lack of training (15%).

Overall, participants expressed confidence in their preparedness and safety on the job site. Most - 85 percent - agreed that their workplaces have ongoing improvement processes to reduce accidents and injuries. Additionally, 58 percent strongly agreed that their supervisors could identify potential safety issues.

When it came to training, 53 percent felt they had sufficient training, although seven percent strongly disagreed. In person training was preferred by most, with videos being the least favoured option.

Regarding familiarity with safety technology such as gas sensors, proximity sensors and drones, 30 percent said they had little to no knowledge, while only four percent claimed a complete understanding. Current use of technology was low, with wearable gas monitors and proximity sensors being the most commonly used devices.

The most frequent reported benefit of the proximity sensors were that ‘sensors on crane booms prevent collisions in blind lifts’ and ‘alerts operator when close to structures’. Some responses specifically referred to using them around powerlines helping them to maintain maximum and minimum boom angles required during heavy lifts. The most common drawbacks with sensors were related to dependency, with one participant writing: “You start to rely more on those systems and become less aware of your surroundings.”

There was a strong overall acceptance of safety technology within the crane and access industry with some comments reading: “Anything that enhances safety is beneficial,” “anything that helps me feel safer, I’m all for it” and “anything to keep my men safe.”

Overall, 43 percent expressed a willingness to try new technologies. Age did not significantly impact attitudes toward learning about new technology.

Looking ahead, despite challenges like falls and collisions, workers expressed confidence in their preparedness and showed openness to new safety measures, indicating a positive outlook towards innovation and safety improvements in the workplace.