Properly maintaining your lifting equipment

by jonhunt on January 17, 2013

While a crane is a modern engineering marvel, it is also a potentially dangerous piece of equipment that needs to be kept in optimum condition for the safety of those who work on and around it. The crane operator is responsible for inspecting and maintaining the crane in a safe condition, assisted by those with expert knowledge of its various systems.

Pre-operational inspection

 

A routine inspection should be carried out before the crane begins work every day. It should be done by the crane operator and should include:

  • A visual inspection of the crane’s structure for cracks, deformities and worn or loose components
  • Inspection and testing of all operating and emergency controls
  • Inspection of wire ropes and rigging equipment
  • Inspection around and under the crane to confirm it is adequately supported, particularly if it has been standing overnight in inclement weather
  • Inspection and testing of personal protective equipment.
     

    Major inspection

     

    At certain intervals in the crane’s operating life, a major inspection will be required in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications. This will be more comprehensive than the daily inspections and will include such things as:

    • Structure — Examine structure and boom for corrosion, cracks, deformities and loose nuts and rivets. Check gearbox, engine and all mechanical components. Check brakes and clutch for correct operation.
    • Wire ropes — Unwind all and check hardware, including sheaves, sockets, thimble joints and dead-ends. Re-lubricate to prevent corrosion and replace any ropes that are dry. Also check the rope’s dimensions for signs of lengthening, which can indicate a defect.
    • Hydraulics — Check system for wear or leakage. Test motors, pumps and hoses for correct operation. Check air cleaners and fluid levels.
    • Controls — Check levers, brakes and cables for wear or looseness and adjust or replace as required. Check indicators for operation and accuracy, including load/radius, boom angle, load moment and boom length indicators.

    Maintenance and repair

     

    When repairs are required, they should be carried out by a suitably qualified person and the following safety precautions observed at all times:

    • Take crane to an area away from the main working area and place a warning sign indicating it is under repair and must not be used
    • Place all controls in the ‘off’ position and lock main switches
    • Clear the area below the crane and cordon off to prevent injury from falling objects
    • Don protective gear, including fall protection equipment, before commencing maintenance or repairs
    • Replacement parts should be identical or equivalent to originals and in accordance with manufacturer’s specifications
    • All work carried out should be recorded in a log book and signed off on
    • Crane should be cleaned and all tools, parts and equipment removed before using the crane.

    Like any piece of complex machinery, a crane needs regular inspections and maintenance to ensure it is functioning properly and does not pose any risk to health and safety. Naturally, if any major damage or defect is discovered in the course of maintenance, the crane should be taken out of service until it can be repaired.

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