So you want to be a crane operator?
Be it while using an overhead or gantry crane, a crane operator is responsible for making safe and successful overhead lifts.
While those are the main goals of any overhead lift, there are many other tasks that a crane operator must perform in order to ensure their lifts are done safely and successfully, as defined by industry standards.
The mission of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) is to set the standards for the lifting and rigging industry. ASME is a professional association and leading international developer of codes and standards associated with the art, science, and practice of mechanical engineering. ASME membership is comprised of engineers, scientists, government officials, and others who voluntarily contribute their technical expertise.
Every couple of years, the B30 Committee reviews, revises, and amends their existing standards and releases a new edition, based on:
- Technological advances
- New Data
- Changing environmental and industry needs
In this article, we’ll discuss what ASME lists as the responsibilities of a crane operator before and during an overhead lift. Also, ASME B30.2 outlines the standard and special signals required to execute safe and successful lifts.
What is ASME B30.2-2022 Overhead and Gantry Cranes?
The first ASME B30.2 Overhead and Gantry Cranes standard was issued in 1996. Since then, this standard has been revised and published by the B30 Committee in 2001, 2005, 2011, and 2016.
The new ASME B30.2 Overhead and Gantry Cranes standard revises and supersedes the procedures outlined in the 2016 edition of the same standard.
According to the standard itself, ASME B30.2-2022 Overhead and Gantry Cranes includes provisions that apply to the construction, installation, operation, inspection, and maintenance of hand-operated and power-driven overhead and gantry cranes that have a top-running single girder or multiple girder bridge, with one or more top-running trolley hoists used for vertical lifting and lowering of freely suspended, unguided loads consisting of equipment and materials.
The requirements included in this Volume also apply to cranes having the same fundamental characteristics such as cantilever gantry cranes, semi-gantry cranes, and wall cranes.
What Are an Overhead Crane Operator’s Responsibilities?
When lifting and moving a load, there are three phases of the lift addressed in the ASME B30.2 Overhead and Gantry Cranes standard:
- Before the lift
- During the lift
- After the lift
In most crane operations, all of the requirements listed below are the responsibility of the crane operator.
Rigging the load, attaching the load to the crane hook, and other tasks related to moving the load are sometimes handled by persons other than the crane operator.
Crane operation characteristics such as, but not limited to, the type of crane, cab, floor, pulpit, or remote operated, the vantage point of the operator, and the purpose for which the crane is being used are conditions that determine whether the crane operator or another person is responsible for lift and move functions.
Assignment of responsibilities is determined, identified, and documented by management for each crane application.
What Shall an Overhead Crane Operator Do Before Making an Overhead Lift?
Before the Lift, ASME B30.2 states that crane operators shall:
- Read and be familiar with the applicable provisions of crane equipment safety standards and the instructions listed in manual(s) provided with the equipment
- Be familiar with controls, instructions, and warnings located on the lifting equipment
- Operate the equipment only when physically and otherwise fit
- Not energize the main switch (crane disconnect) if a warning sign, lock, or tag is on the device until the sign, lock, or tag is removed by the person who placed it on the device or by a designated person
- Not remove a warning sign, lock, or tag that is on any switch that controls power to the crane, such as, but not limited to, the crane disconnect, motion disconnect, or runway disconnect, if the sign, lock, or tag was placed on the device by another person
- Place all controllers in the off position before closing the main line disconnect device
- Verify that no worker is on or adjacent to the crane before closing the main switch (crane disconnect)
- Perform a functional test inspection and test in accordance with the requirements of para. 2-2.1.3*
- Not remove or obscure the warning or safety labels, plates, or tags furnished on the lifting equipment
- Be familiar with and understand hand signals (see Section 2-3.6 and Figure 2-3.6.1-1)**
*Paragraph 2-2.1.3 outlines the requirements of a functional test, which is a visual and audible operational examination of the crane, and shall be conducted at the beginning of each shift or before the crane is first used during each shift.
**Paragraph 2-3.6 and Figure 2-220.127.116.11 outline the standard signals used when making an overhead lift, including:
- Bridge travel
- Trolley travel
- Emergency stop
- Multiple trolleys
- Move slowly
- Magnet is disconnected
Along with the responsibilities listed above, ASME B30.2 outlines other tasks that crane operators shall do before executing an overhead lift:
- Verify that the hook, bridge, and trolley travel in the same direction as shown on the controls
- Verify that the hoist rope is free from kinks or twists and is not wrapped around the load
- Attach the load to the hook or have the load attached to the hook by means of slings or other lifting devices
- Verify that the load, sling, or lifting device (when not reeved into the hoist ropes) is seated in the bowl of the hook
- Use a hook latch when provided
- Verify that the hook latch (when provided) is closed and not supporting any part of the load
- Verify that the rope is seated in the drum grooves and in the sheave(s) grooves if there is or has been a slack rope condition
- Activate the warning device, when a device is furnished
- Before starting the bridge or trolley motion of the crane
- Intermittently during travel of the crane when approaching persons in the path of the load
- Board the crane (cab) only at authorized locations and designated boarding entrances
- Verify that the transmitter selected is the correct transmitter for the crane to be operated
What Shall an Overhead Crane Operator Do During an Overhead Lift?
During the lift, ASME B30.2 statescrane operators shall respond to all signals from a lift director or designated signalperson. If a stop signal is given, the overhead crane operator must stop the lift immediately. When a signalperson is not utilized, the overhead crane operator is responsible for the lift.
The overhead crane operator shall verify the weight of the load without using a load-limiting device. Also, they shall make the lift only if the load is within the working load limit of the crane, hoist, and the components used in rigging.
When the crane operator discovers a safety issue, it is their responsibility to stop the crane’s functions and only resume after the concerns have been addressed. Additionally, crane operators shall minimize swinging of the load, and avoid sudden acceleration and deceleration of the load.
With safety being of utmost importance, crane operators shall “verify that the load and rigging are free to move and will clear all obstructions,” “avoid carrying loads over people.”
*Section 2-3.4 outlines the planning that needs to happen before load-handling activities.
**Paragraph 2-1.3.1 lists the requirements for the general construction of runways and supporting structure, including foundations, anchorages, and crane runways.
For a full list of crane operator responsibilities, please refer to Section 2-3.3.4 of the ASME B30.2 Overhead and Gantry Cranes standard.
What Shall an Overhead Crane Operator Do After a Lift?
The crane operator’s responsibilities are not yet completed, even after a safe and successful lift. There are several operations that need to be completed before a crane operator’s shift is finished.
After the lift, ASME B30.2 states that crane operators shall:
- Lift the load block and attachments above the highest movable obstruction under the crane when the crane is not in use
- Notify the next operator if required adjustment, repair, or replacement has not been made
- Properly secure an outdoor overhead or gantry crane when the crane is shut down
- Open the crane main line disconnect device and the magnet disconnect switch (when applicable) before leaving the crane cab
- Place the controllers in the off position before leaving the controls of the crane
- Shut off the power to pendant-operated cranes before leaving area
- Shut off and store transmitter in a designated and protected location
What Is Listed in Section 2-3.6: Signals?
In listing the responsibilities for crane operators, the ASME B30 Committee references Section 2-3.6, but what is included in this part of the standard?
Section 2-3.6 outlines the following:
- Standard signals
- Special signals
- Signals to the operator shall be in accordance with this Volume, unless voice communication (telephone, radio, or equivalent) is utilized.
- Signals should be discernible or audible to the operator.
- Hand signals shall be posted conspicuously and should be as illustrated in Figure 2-3.6.1-1.
- Special operations may require additions to or modifications of standard signals.
- Special signals shall be agreed upon and understood by the signalperson and the operator.
- Special signals shall not conflict with standard signals.
What Training Shall an Overhead Crane Operator Receive?
The Purpose of Crane Operator Training
Crane operator training shall be provided to promote proficient performance of a crane operator in conformance with the provisions of this Volume.
Crane Operator Training: General
Training shall include those items that apply to the crane and the particular application of the crane. Refer to para. 2-3.1.3 as a guide for sources of training material.
Training programs and their contents shall be based upon, but not limited to:
- Physical characteristics of the workplace
- Performance characteristics and complexity of the crane
- Multiple piece loads
- Raw materials
- Bulk materials
- Machine assemblies
- Hot molten materials
- Hot materials
- Fragile or durable materials
Sources of Training Material
Examples of sources of training material are as follows:
- Information outlined in the manual provided with the equipment
- Information available through trade associations
- Government training resources such as the Department of Labor
- Organized labor groups
- Courses, seminars, and literature offered by manufacturers of cranes, consultants, trade schools, continuing education schools, employers, and manufacturers of crane component parts
- Requirements and recommendations found in National Consensus Standards such as this Volume
How Can Mazzella Help You Stay in Compliance with the ASME B30.2 Overhead and Gantry Cranes Standard?
Mazzella provides lifting and rigging training in all types of environments to suit your needs! If you require a specific lifting or rigging training course for OSHA compliance for slings, hoists and / or rigging hardware, Mazzella can assist you in creating a safe and reliable workplace.
All Mazzella trainers have been accredited by our company through training by a third party training company (Industrial Training International, Inc.), Mazzella’s internal training program, and are trained on OSHA and ASME standards.
Mazzella’s Lifting and Rigging Training program has modules that educate you and your team on:
- Rigging techniques
- The importance of lift planning
- Wire rope slings
- Chain slings
- Web slings and roundslings
- Hooks, shackles, eyebolts, and hoist rings
- Load control
- Custom-made Below-the-Hook devices
- Safe design
- Overhead cranes and safe lifting operations
Call us at 800.362.4601 or click here to learn more about our training programs, or schedule training for your workers!
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