Rising high into the air, cranes are essential pieces of equipment when it comes to construction. They lift, move, and put materials into place. They do this by lowering a rope and hook to ground level where the construction workers are. Then the workers attach a load securely to the hook and the crane hoists it up with the guidance of a crane operator.
The crane operator’s cabin is where the operator sits and controls the functions of the crane. Oftentimes it is combined with the driver’s cab. It has a lot of windows to promote optimal visibility—this is important so that the operator may see the crane’s range of motion.
The boom of a crane is probably the most noticeable feature of it. It is what you typically see up dozens of feet in the air. Think of it as the arm of a crane. The boom is used to lift and move construction materials. The two main types of booms are lattice booms and hydraulic booms.
The hoist is a system of wire rope running up and down the crane. This is what gives the crane its lifting power. In cranes, they are powered by an electric or hydraulic motor that turns gears and helps the ropes to move, which is referred to as the hoist drum.
At the end of the boom and connected to the hoist is a metal hook, which is where the load gets attached to. The hook also features a system of “sheaves.” These are to increase the lifting force in a crane. The more sheaves a crane has, the more weight it can carry. Altogether this is sometimes referred to as the load block or hook block.
The counterweights are a very important part of a property functioning crane. Counterweights are weights that are mounted to the back of the crane, opposite of the load. Their purpose is to offset the weight of the load being lifted. Essentially, this is what will keep the crane from toppling over when lifting heavy things. They are usually removable for easier transportation.
The outriggers have a similar purpose to a counterweight as they help stabilize the crane. They are metal beams that extend from the chassis of a crane.
Mobile Crane Signals
Along with knowing the parts and functions of a crane, it is important to be informed on some lifting best practices. Knowing the parts of a crane and knowing the safety precautions will help ensure a safe work environment. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind for crane lifting safety:
- Look Around. Check your surroundings when lifting. This means conducting a visual inspection of the crane parts to make sure nothing seems out of place. Also look around the site and make sure that when you lift all personnel are a safe distance away from the lift zone and its perimeters.
- Don’t Exceed the Lift Limit. Make sure you know how much weight your crane is equipped to lift—and don’t exceed that number. When you do secure the appropriate amount of weight to the hook, make sure that it is properly attached.
- Stay Close. If you are in the operator’s cabin and are facilitating the crane, ensure that the crane is as close as possible to the load being lifted. This will help with control and stability. Additionally, try to keep the load as low to the ground as is reasonably safe.
- Know Mobile Crane Signals. Due to the loudness of a construction site, workers use hand signals to communicate with the crane operator. The operator needs to look at the hand signals of the worker to ensure when the proper time to lift, move, and place the load.
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