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Top 10 OSHA Crane Violations of 2023

Cranes are powerful pieces of equipment that help professionals across industries construct buildings, transport materials, and build roads. They can also be extremely hazardous when OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) safety guidelines aren’t followed.

Keep reading to learn more about the different types of cranes, along with the most common crane violations that you should avoid.

osha crane violations

Table of Contents

Types of Cranes

When it comes to cranes, there are various types to choose from. To start with, there are two primary crane categories: static and mobile. Then, you have multiple types of cranes within both of these categories. Here’s a breakdown of these categories along with three common crane types within each one.

Static Cranes vs. Mobile Cranes

  • Static Cranes
    Static cranes are designed to operate in place and transport loads along a predetermined path.
  • Mobile Cranes
    Mobile cranes are fully mobile and transport materials from one location to another by traveling along the ground.
Mobility Lift Capacity Versatility Uses
Static Cranes
Fixed to the ground or attached to a roof or structure, limiting their range of motion.
With a higher lift capacity than most mobile cranes, they’re used for lifting extremely heavy loads in one location.
Best suited for tasks that require lifting heavy loads to a fixed location.
Ideal for long-term projects in the construction and shipbuilding industries.
Mobile Cranes
Travel between locations on wheels with tread, maximizing their range of motion.
Although the lift capacity is lower than static cranes, they can still lift substantial loads.
Can lift loads in various locations and at different heights within their operational radius.
Ideal for short-term projects that involve loading and unloading materials, erecting structures, and handling loads in various locations at a worksite.

The Importance of Crane Operator Certification

Crane operator certification is much more than a piece of paper. It shows employers that you have the knowledge and skills they need to operate various crane types safely and effectively. It also gives you more confidence on the job because you know you’re equipped with the proper knowledge and skills. Employees must receive training and certification for each crane type they will operate on the job, as outlined in OSHA regulations.

The Most Common OSHA Crane Safety Violations

Knowing the most frequently violated OSHA crane safety guidelines can help construction crews implement prevention strategies. Here are the top ten citations you should be aware of when operating a crane.

  1. Fall Protection
    Falls are the leading cause of injuries and fatalities in the construction industry. Elements that impact fall frequency include poor structural integrity, damp surfaces, and unsuitable footwear. All employees reaching heights that are six feet or higher must receive proper fall protection training.
  2. Inspections
    All crane personnel should know how to properly inspect equipment before using it. Routine inspections are necessary to ensure proper function and safety throughout the job. Operators should follow all equipment inspection instructions that are outlined in the owner’s manual.
  3. Signal Person Qualifications
    Construction sites are noisy. Since it can be difficult to hear verbal instructions, having someone dedicated to providing hand signals to the crane operator is essential. The signal person and the operator should implement proper hand, radio, and special signals anytime cranes and other heavy equipment are being used. These signals keep everyone on the same page. OSHA requires the signal person to exhibit competency through an oral or written exam along with a practical exam.
  4. Power Line Safety
    Operators must know and maintain the minimum approach distance at all times. This simply means how close a crane can get to power lines before they become hazardous.
  5. Keeping Clear of the Load
    Only certain crew members can be in the fall zone during an operation, and no crew members should ever stand directly below the load.
  6. Assembly/Disassembly
    Only qualified personnel should be in charge of assembling and disassembling any type of crane.
  7. Operator Qualification & Certification
    All crane operators must be trained, certified, and evaluated by an accredited and nationally recognized entity before operating a crane on the job site. Unqualified operators can put not only themselves but everyone else in danger.
  8. Lockout/Tagout
    Lockout or tagout refers to hazardous energy control during maintenance checks that protect workers from amputations and other serious injuries resulting from sudden machine startup and stored energy release. Common injuries that result from a lack of lockout or tagout include:
    1. Electrocution
    2. Burns
    3. Crushing
    4. Cuts
    5. Lacerations
    6. Amputations
    7. Fractures
  9. Respiratory Protection
    When the permissible exposure limit (PELs) of airborne contaminants is relatively high, employers must provide employees with proper personal protective equipment (PPE), like masks and respirators. This PPE prevents workers from developing respiratory problems due to workplace contaminants.
  10. Training
    Cranes operators must receive training on the safe operation of equipment, power line safety, signaling, emergency procedures, and more.

The Importance of Crane Safety

Cranes are powerful machines that can have serious, and even fatal, consequences when not used and maintained properly. The common violations described above can be reduced and even eliminated when the right safety procedures are put in place. Following crane safety procedures can help both employers and employees:

  • Minimize workplace hazards
  • Reduce the occurrence of injuries and deaths
  • Enhance productivity
  • Reduce downtime
  • Reduce operation costs
  • Avoid litigation

The Skills Required to Become a Crane Operator

Operating a crane safely and effectively requires extensive training and hands-on experience. Here are some of the top skills that any crane operator should possess before stepping foot on a piece of machinery.

  • Physical strength and stamina
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Mechanical skills
  • Troubleshooting skills
  • Verbal communication
  • Alertness
  • Safety-minded

Find a Crane Operator Training School Near You

Whether you want to become a crane operator in California, Oklahoma, or Georgia, HEC is the school for you. We offer accelerated mobile and static crane training programs that can be completed in as little as three weeks. By the end of your program, you’ll be ready to earn your crane certification for tower cranes or another crane type. Take a look below to find the program and location that are right for you.


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Start Training at Heavy Equipment Colleges of America

Are you ready to kickstart your career as a crane operator? Get the training you need at HEC. In as little as three weeks, you’ll be ready to take your certification exam and apply for jobs in the field. We even have a career services team that can help with everything from resume building to interview prep. Whatever you need, we’re here to help. Enroll now to get started.


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