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Applied Case— The Importance of Safety Training & Routine Inspections

Applied Case— The Importance of Safety Training & Routine Inspections

Forklift and Overhead Crane Collision, 2021

In 2021, the MHS Service Department received an emergency call from a customer, a South Florida patio products manufacturer, needing immediate repairs. Only three months after installing a new overhead crane system at their newest plant, an employee rammed a forklift into the hook of the overhead crane, bringing down the entire system. This accident resulted in thousands of dollars in repair work, OSHA investigation, and several fines for lack of safety protocols.

Why did this happen?

The first factor that led to this issue was a lack of training and safety procedures.
After installation, MHS suggests proper overhead crane training for all employees—this includes operator training, signal training, and proper area mark-off. Unfortunately, this customer rejected the training included in the post-installation services of their system.
During operator training, operators learn how to properly use an overhead crane system, and more importantly, they learn how to assess risks that can affect the success of a lift.
These are the five steps crane operators need to follow before starting a lift:
  1. Inspect the crane and surrounding area. Look for cracks, fissures, and any other anomalies on the crane structure.
  1. Test the limit switches! Limit switches prevent the over-travel of a hoist. If the limit switches fail, then the hoist may not stop on demand and lead to a crash.
  1. Understand and respect the proper load weight. Cranes are designed to handle a specific weight limit. By lifting overweight, the load can snap from the lifting system, damaging product, or worse, injuring someone.
  1. Find the center of gravity—by balancing the load, you ensure that there won’t be swinging that could potentially damage surrounding structures and product.
  1. Properly rig the load! First and foremost, inspect the rigging equipment and attach there are no loose items that could lead to a dropped load.
Most importantly, operator training teaches employees how to communicate with fellow employees to ensure no one interferes in the lifting area during operation.
The second reason this incident occurred was negligence after crane operation and lack of proper forklift operation.
During this operation, the hook had been left lowered, instead of tucked into the hoist. This is a huge mistake because hooks are heavy, steel objects and they can cause severe damage and injury if they hit or snag other objects or structures.  Additionally, forklift operators must be equally aware of the surroundings—this particular operator did not visually inspect the area of operation, which led to them backing into the lowered hook.

How to mitigate risk?

Prevention is key! The cost of repairs, replacement, workers compensation, and safety fines can significantly impact your business.
Basic operator training should be done post-installation, and certification training for operators should be done before an operator is allowed near any type of crane system.
By OSHA standards, refresher courses should be conducted every two years for certified operators; at MHS, we recommend annual training as a form of preventative measures.
At Material Handling Systems, Inc. we have certified crane trainers, inspectors, and experts with over 45 years of collective experience.
Ready to book a training or want to learn more about how to protect your system and your team?
Speak to one of our experts.
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About Ana C. Coronel

A digital native and experienced marketing project manager, Ana is the trusted communicator for MHS customers about all things cranes. She helps customers understand how MHS improves operational workflows and increases equipment life by connecting them with the experienced engineering and service teams.