Crane Load Proximity Lights Improve Safety

Load proximity lights are the latest safety feature that many organizations are adding to their overhead cranes to reduce the hazards to pedestrians exposed to the moving crane load.

The increased use of remote controls with overhead cranes has improved productivity, however, the ability to operate the crane at a distance increases the risk of potential injury to pedestrian workers in the area.  While the overhead crane operator is concentrating on the load being handled, pedestrian workers who are focused on their work can wander into the travel area of the load.

Remote Operated Cranes Require an Audible or Visual Warning Device
OSHA 1910.179 requires that remotely operated cranes have a visual or audible warning device.  Audible beeping alarms are fine and have been used successfully for many decades.

However audible alarms are frequently “drowned out” and ignored as workers get used to the sound especially in loud industrial settings. Today there is also the more widespread use of worker ear plugs mandated by corporate safety to protect the worker. This problem with audible alarms is exacerbated when there are multiple lifts and cranes working simultaneously in the same area.

Many companies have opted for a visual device such as a strobe light because the audible warning devices are too distracting in the work environment.  These cranes based devices can only be effective if pedestrians are looking up towards the structure of the crane or hoist.

Load proximity lights do not take the place of audible alarms or strobes but do provide an additional visual warning that is proportional to the proximity of the moving equipment hazard. Unlike an audible “beep” – the actual movement of a light on the floor from an overhead crane provides a definitive warning to affected pedestrian employees – those in the immediate danger area.

They also enhance the protection of a strobe by offering both a visual warning at floor level in addition to the warning at higher elevation viewable from a distance.  Load proximity lights are available that are specifically designed for overhead cranes and are available in spot, line, laser and arrow designs projected on the floor below.

Overhead Crane Pedestrian Safety Issues

  1. Operators control overhead cranes from a cab far above the floor or a remote control from an operator on the floor making it difficult to watch or warn pedestrians.
  2. When a load on a crane is stopped suddenly, there is potential for significant hook/load sway
  3. Pedestrian workers are frequently working in close proximity to crane handling operations.
  4. Crane operators concentrate on the load they are handling and may NOT see workers.
  5. Workers are concentrating on their job at hand and may NOT see the moving load in their area.
  6. 90% of crane accidents occur due to human error – either by the operator or by a pedestrian.
  7. 40% the victims were struck by an object (such as an uncontrolled hoisted load or crane part).
  8. 50% of U.S. crane accidents that had injuries in 2009 resulted in fatalities.

Why load proximity lights improve safety on overhead cranes:

  1. Reduce accidents!  80 lift and material handling equipment workers are killed each year, on average.
  2. Reduce incidences of human error – pedestrians are more aware of moving load.
  3. Pedestrian sees projected line or spot on the floor – knows his proximity to the moving load.
  4. Very effective for overhead cranes working in areas with many pedestrians.
  5. Pedestrian workers can get “immune” to the beeping sound of overhead cranes in use.
  6. Beeping audible alarms do NOT provide a pedestrian with a sense of proximity to the load on the crane.
  7. Crane operators have a new “frame of reference” as to the exact position of load/hook above the floor.
  8. Significantly improves operator control of the load, especially when exact positioning is required.
  9. Operators do not have to take their eyes off the crane block or load to know trolley is centered over the load.
  10. LED lines can create a square “box” around the load/hook on floor below – obvious “danger area”.
  11. Pedestrian worker sees colored line or spot on the floor – knows the load is moving and his proximity to it.
  12. Snap-on lens cover turns a spot on the floor into line on the floor – allows the user to “box” in the hook.
  13. Moving lines/spot on the floor prevents pedestrians from walking under a suspended load.

Contact CRANE 1 to get more information on how you can add these new safety features to your overhead cranes.