How To Use an Overhead Crane

An overhead crane is a crane with a movable bridge that carries a hoisting mechanism and travels on a fixed runway structure.  For safety purposes, overhead cranes must be inspected frequently.  In fact, OSHA has a set of guidelines for the safe operation of overhead cranes.  Here is a list of tips to get you started on the safe and effective use of an overhead crane:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the controls.  Know their location, their function, and how to stop the crane immediately should you need to.  There is a disconnect switch that will stop all functioning of the crane when you push it--make sure that it is both easy to reach and also operational.
  2. Inspect equipment daily before use.  If any parts such as steel ropes, limit switches, chains, nylon or web slings are worn, loose, or missing, replace immediately.  Also check pneumatic and hydraulic parts for leakage.
  3. Make sure all control buttons are labeled.  Even if you know the controls by heart, it is still important to have them labeled so that you--or anyone else who might need to--will be able to use them in circumstances of extreme stress, when you may not be thinking clearly.  Test each button to make sure it is working.
  4. Check end stops that prevent the trolley from running off the beam.  Occupational health and safety code requires that an overhead crane operating on rails, racks or trolleys be equipped with a positive stop or limiting device.
  5. Test the crane by moving it briefly in every direction that it travels.  See if the movement is smooth.  Listen for any sounds that are different than what you are used to hearing as you operate the overhead crane. 
  6. Check the limit switches for both the upper and lower hoists by slowly moving the hoist block in each direction until the switches are tripped.  If these switches are not working, you need to know now and not when you need them most!

  7. Make sure that hooks and hook safety latches are intact.  Hooks should be able to move freely within the assembly, and should not have any deformation or cracks.
  8. Make sure that the block assembly is intact.  Again check for any undue wear and cracking.
  9. Check the condition of the wire rope.  Look for twisted, deformed or broken rope.  Make sure the wire rope nests smoothly in its cylinder.
  10. Inspect all mechanical coupling links
  11. Check load chain for damage, wear or distortion.
  12. Check the condition of web slings.  You must be able to read the manufacturer's label so as to ascertain load limits.


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