Need An Overhead Crane For Your Warehouse? What You Need To Know About Safety And Maintenance


When you own a small business that depends on moving heavy supplies and materials within a warehouse setting, you need equipment that can lift, transport and lower objects safely. Solely relying on human power, hand trucks and carts can slow you down when you experience significant growth and need to meet customer demands for your products.

If you plan to invest in an overhead crane to help make your factory operations more efficient, you need to educate yourself on the safety procedures for the device in order to avoid accidents and meet safety regulations.


Even though overhead cranes perform a simple operation, moving heavy objects horizontally with a wheeled trolley in the air along a bridge mounted near the ceiling, they can be dangerous if they are not operated by trained personnel.

If you do not have certified crane operators on your staff, you need to hire them or provide adequate training to warehouse employees. Crane operator qualifications include:

  • Completing a training program approved by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO)
  • Passing a written test
  • Undergoing a practical exam
  • Agreeing to a substance abuse policy
  • Passing a physical exam

Certifications last for five years. At the end of the five-year period, crane operators must apply for recertification. Some crane manufacturers also provide safety training for their products. In addition, you should provide training for all warehouse employees in overhead crane hand signals.

Attire and Safety Accessories

In addition to providing training, you need to equip your employees with the right attire and safety devices for operating an overhead crane and handling materials transported on the device. Hazardous situations occur when there are slippery, uneven and wet work surfaces. In addition, protective gear protects workers from falling objects and strains or sprains from hoisting heavy loads on crane trolleys.

The gear you provide must meet U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. Essential gear for warehouse employees that operate or work near overhead cranes include:

  • Slip-resistant steel toe work boots
  • Heavy-duty gloves
  • Metal or plastic metatarsal guards to protect the bones of the foot
  • Lined jackets or vests
  • Flame resistant shirts and pants
  • Hard hats
  • Safety glasses

Rules and Maintenance

Even after your employees complete the necessary certification to operate an overhead crane, your business must comply with federal and industry safety regulations. In addition to following OSHA material handling and overhead crane safety standards, you must perform daily and monthly safety checks of the equipment and keep your cranes in excellent working condition.

Common problems with overhead cranes include:

  • Using tools during operation that are not properly grounded
  • Not properly rigging hoisted loads
  • Hoisting loads near electrical cables
  • Improper use of the crane such as exceeding weight limits on trolleys
  • Obstructions that hamper proper crane operation

Many of these problems are the result of human error. Consequently, it is crucial that workers follow safety rules to avoid accidents. Furthermore, if you need to install an overhead crane, you must hire certified professionals to install the device.


While regular maintenance and safety checks can help you to avoid operating defective equipment, inspections are also essential. OSHA and state agencies set the schedule for inspections. States determine inspection intervals based on the number of hours of crane use or a specified time frame such as each month or quarter.

Contact your state's occupation safety and health administration for specific requirements.

You must hire a certified inspector to examine your crane. If inspectors find problems with your crane, you must schedule repairs and discontinue operating the device. You may be required to schedule a follow-up inspection with a state inspector to examine the overhead crane before you can resume operating the device.

For more information, contact a crane manufacturer, like Wazee Crane.


27 January 2015

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