Cranes and the energy industry

Cranes are used for a variety of reasons on sites that support the energy industry. In 2010, OSHA updated their standards for cranes and derricks used in construction.  The standards address many topics including, but not limited to, advances in the design of cranes, qualifications of employees needed to operate them safely, as well as the related hazards. Below are some key considerations when working with cranes.

Crane operator qualifications

Cranes are typically one of the most expensive pieces of equipment on a site. They also are critical for operations. Therefore it is important to confirm your operators are qualified to operate them. Certifications through organizations like the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators, a non-profit organization, can help evaluate an employees’ knowledge and skills related to crane operations. In addition, businesses also need to determine that their crane operators meet the requirements found in the Cranes and Derricks standard. Even though the crane operator qualification requirements do not become effective until November 2017, this standard contains requirements that are being enforced now.

Leveling of cranes

Crane instability is a hazard that can have serious consequences. Cranes used on wind turbine or similar sites usually have higher capacities and longer boom lengths, which means they can exert a higher amount of bearing pressure to the ground’s surface. The ground surface needs to be adequately prepared for crane operation. On many sites, a specific pad/area for the crane to work from is prepared to allow for these higher ground bearing pressures. If the base isn’t sufficiently prepared, cranes can overturn. OSHA standard 1926.1402 addresses an employer’s responsibility to determine whether ground preparation is sufficient to support the anticipated weight of hoisting equipment and associated loads.

Assembly/disassembly of lattice boom cranes

Lattice boom cranes are commonly used on work sites. Assembling and disassembling these booms can be one of the most dangerous tasks a machine operator or construction worker may encounter on a project. According to a report published by The Center for Construction Research and Training, the third leading cause of crane-related deaths over a 14-year time span was being struck by the crane boom or jib. The report states that out of the 125 deaths in this category, 64 involved being struck by falling crane booms/jibs. Of these, 36 deaths involved dismantling the boom1. OSHA’s Subpart CC standard, Cranes and Derricks in Construction, was developed to help reduce the potential for employee injuries and/or equipment damage. Some of these requirements address boom assembly/disassembly operations and can be found in sections such as 29 CFR 1926.1402 -1407.


1The Center for Construction Research and Training:  Crane-Related Deaths in Construction and Recommendations for Their Prevention; Revised and Updated November 2009;

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