Avoiding Proven Problematic Behaviors…
Lee Danley, EDD, MS, BS
McGhee Crane Services; Executive Director
McGhee Crane Services goes to great lengths to maintain safe and effective crane operations. We know that in this high-risk industry of crane operations, safety is of the utmost concern. This has become more and more obvious as other crane companies have experienced devastating incidents over the years. Through extensive training and awareness programs, we are continually working with our operators in an effort to maintain very high standards with regard to safety protocol. All of our crane operators are certified by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) and have been deemed qualified internally by our most experienced operators according to OSHA standards. For the safety of our customers, as well as our competitors and contractors out there in the field, please make note of the following causes of crane accidents which have been identified as the most common.
Taking Shortcuts: Every day we make decisions we hope will make our jobs faster and more efficient. However, in an effort to reduce costs by being more efficient, one should never increase the level of risk. Every job is worth taking the extra time to address safety issues more critically. The desire to finish a job quickly can force crane operators to make assumptions, ignore important details, and overlook important safety factors. Short cuts that reduce costs on the job are not worth the threat of an accident or critical injuries resulting from compromised safety standards. Experienced crane operators know, accidents on a job site are likely to cause severe injuries, incur significant property damage, and in many cases end in excessively high-cost litigation.
Being Overconfident: Confidence is a good thing, but overconfidence is too much of a good thing. The primary problem associated with overconfidence is “complacency”. If mobile crane operators develop complacency, there is always the chance of overlooking important aspects of the job. This is an all too common attitude among operators who have mastered the art of rig, lift, and place. Often they tend to elevate themselves above others, and the task at hand which has now become mundane. This increases the probability of creating unsafe job conditions or an accident. Overconfidence and an approach of complacency can lead to improper procedures or methods in your work, which can then lead to injury.
Starting a Job with Incomplete Instructions: In order to do most any lift properly, and with the correct rigging equipment, operators need to know all of the details. In the mobile crane industry, an operator never wants to arrive on site not having what is needed to get the job done properly. The initial use of good communication skills, and the pre-planning of lifts, will allow for safer rigging and lifting conditions. Asking for detailed explanations regarding contractor plans and work procedures, as well as safety precautions is always appropriate, especially when so much is at stake. Experienced operators never default to alternative and less safe methods of rigging or lifting because they do not have what they need on site. After performing a comprehensive job site assessment, operators will make the critical determination to proceed or to wait for the appropriate equipment to arrive. Suggesting an alternative set-up or lift process that is equally safe is completely within the operators’ purview.
Poor Housekeeping: Poor housekeeping can create hazards of all types that increase the chance of injuries on the job site. A well maintained work area also sets a good standard for colleagues to follow. Housekeeping involves both pride and safety, so always make sure your work area is clean and free of loose debris or scrap materials. Trip and fall is one of the leading types of accidents causing employee and personnel injuries. Trenches, ledges, holes, and debris piles should be coned or caution taped off, when necessary. This becomes even more critical when more than one work crew is on a construction site who may be unfamiliar with the surrounding area.
Ignoring Safety Procedures: Crane operators should never ignore contractor or construction site safety protocols. Repercussions from a blatant disregard for rules and regulations can be very bad for business. In numerous cases, subcontractors have been asked to leave the premises and are held in breach of contract. This causes the crane operator’s business to lose money already earned in tandem with the inability to make money in the future. Fines can also be levied if OSHA gets involved in the matter when the intent was egregious enough to warrant intervention. Purposely failing to observe safety procedures can also endanger you and your co-workers. For example, if the operator is required to wear specific PPE or stay within a certain boundary and does not, people can get injured. You are employed and being paid to follow company safety policies, not to create your own rules as you see fit.
Mental Distractions: Having a bad day at home and then worrying about your home life at work is a hazardous combination. This common occurrence can cause you to drop your mental guard and pull your focus away from safe work procedures. While operating cranes you have to remain attentive at all times so as to avoid accidents. Just like the concept of distracted driving, you need to stay alert and focused on the task at hand, otherwise disaster can be lurking. You can also be distracted when someone simply comes by to talk while you are trying to work. Don’t become a statistic because you took your eyes off the job “just for a minute.”