Crane Safety Heightened in Threatening Weather

Keeping an eye on the weather is a wise decision for anyone who works outdoors. This is especially important for those with careers in construction and heavy equipment operation. A responsible crane operator should be cognizant of when the weather turns threatening and how to act accordingly. American Cranes & Transport Magazine (ACT) recently posted an article that offers tips about responding to various severe weather conditions.

High winds

Wind is probably the most obvious weather threat to safe crane operation. High or gusty winds can cause load swing, compromise overall stability, and possibly contribute to the crane tipping over. It’s best to avoid crane operation if the wind speed is over 20 mph. Also remember that the higher the load is lifted, the more likely the wind will increase. When operating between two tall buildings the wind is likely to pick up, and even a small gust can present challenges. The operator should pay special attention to load drift, load spin, boom swing and holding the load In place all times, but especially in windy conditions.

High heat

High temperatures are always a challenge to crane safety, and operators in Florida are very familiar with this threat. Overheated engines, hydraulic system failure, and dirty filters can threaten work safety, so keeping the crane clean and lubricated is critical. It’s also vital for the air conditioning to work well in the cab. Operators who are not hydrated and exposed to heat over a long period of time can experience fatigue and heat exhaustion. Regular work breaks are also important.

Low temperatures

Not usually an issue in Florida, but cold temperatures can affect a crane’s hydraulic system and slow it down due to thickening of the hydraulic oil. Extreme cold can compromise structural strength and cause steel components to become brittle. Additionally, the well-being of the crane operator can be threatened when the body cools down faster than heats up. This can result in disorientation, numbness, frostbite, and hypothermia.


Lightning not only poses possible injury and death to persons – it can knock out a crane’s electrical system and may damage the safety system. As soon as a crane operator hears thunder or sees lightning, they should immediately telescope in and/or lower the boom, then turn off the electrical system. Cranes are built with a lot of steel and the boom can act as a lightning rod, so it’s imperative to evacuate the cab and general area around the crane during an electrical storm. Stay away from the crane for 30 minutes after hearing the last sound of thunder. Before returning to work, conduct a thorough inspection to check for possible damage.

Maintaining safe crane operation can be challenging under normal weather conditions. When extreme weather occurs, the potential for danger can multiply. Make it a habit to be aware of the climate around you and that will help ensure a safe work zone for you and your coworkers.

Read the entire article at ACT’s website by clicking here.

September 1, 2022
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