Daily Inspection and Maintenance Required for Overhead Cranes

When using an overhead crane for material handling applications, having a preventative maintenance program in place is IMPERATIVE.  This maintenance program should be centred on crane manufacturers recommendations, and based on an effective and thorough safety and inspection program that is conducted regularly.  If a crane inspector detects UNSAFE conditions or deteriorated components during a mandatory inspection, they must be fixed before any employee can continue using the system.

To implement a compliant and in-depth preventative maintenance program, one must initially consider having a daily inspection and safety procedure checklist. Following a checklist to GUARANTEE that your overhead crane is receiving proper maintenance will not only allow you to keep your system in working order for much longer, it will also preserve your warranty and avoid potential worker safety concerns from arising.

FIRSTLY – Lets Define Daily Inspection:

While only designated personnel may perform required maintenance and repairs on overhead crane systems, the crane operator should conduct inspections daily before and after use. A daily inspection checklist should be used and signed off on to ensure an effective and thorough assessment. OSHA 1910.179 refers to this daily inspection as a safety check. According to OSHA, the safety check must include all hoists and cranes before use at the beginning of each shift. Furthermore, visual assessments must be limited to areas that can be inspected from the floor, a catwalk, or another safe observation point.

Daily Inspection Checklist for Overhead Crane Safety: 

According to OSHA 1910.179, the daily safety inspection must be conducted by the crane operator each day and/or before use at the beginning of each shift. To start, the operator should ensure that all required safety equipment is present and in use. He or she should also be trained and authorized to use the equipment in question.

Once the operator has ensured all safety equipment is present and in use, he or she should then check to see if the crane or hoist has been locked-out or tagged-out. OSHA 29 CFR 1910.147 mandates that the control of hazardous energy or lockout/Tagout must be used to de-energize the crane.  Before the operator begins the safety inspection, he or she should assess the area around the crane for potential safety hazards.

Area Check-Out:

  • Know where the crane disconnect switch is located.
  • Verify there are no warning signs on or around the push button pendant.
  • Make sure workers aren’t performing their duties nearby.
  • Ensure that the load can travel freely or without impediments.
  • Ensure there are no obstructions in or around the area where the load will be moved, and that the area is large enough to move and place materials safely.
  • Check that all below-the-hook devices are designed for the crane in use and can safely lift loads.
  • Ensure that the load capacity is less than or equal to the rated capacity of the crane.

Once the crane operator has checked out the area around the crane, he or she can begin a preliminary equipment checkout. Preliminary checkouts should occur before the operator touches any crane controls.

Preliminary Equipment Checkout:

  • Ensure there are no loose, broken, or damaged parts on the hoist, trolley, bridge, runway, or electric systems.
  • Check that the wire rope is reeved and seated in the drum grooves properly.
  • Verify that the bottom block is not twisted (no two lengths of wire rope should touch).
  • Check that nothing is contacted or close to open power sources and that enclosures are secured.
  • Ensure there are no wires pulled from strain reliefs or bushings.
  • Verify that the pushbutton pendant controls are not damaged (check for cracks, torn parts, or missing labels).

After checking out the crane area and conducting a preliminary equipment checkout, the crane operator can inspect the overhead crane itself for any potential malfunctions or safety hazards.

Daily Equipment Safety Checkout – Powered Systems:

  • With the pushbutton turned off—check that the buttons are not sticking and operating smoothly. When the button is released, it should always return to the off position automatically.
  • With the pushbutton turned on—check that the crane warning device operates properly.
  • Ensure that the hoist hook rises when the button is pushed to the “up” position.
  • Check that the upper limit switch is functioning properly.
  • Ensure that all other pushbutton controls are operating properly and moving in the right direction.

Daily Equipment Safety Checkout -Hooks:

  • Check that there’s no more than 10 percent wear on any part of the hook.
  • Check for bending or twisting and cracks.
  • Check that safety latches are in place and functioning properly.
  • Ensure that the hook nut (if visible) is tight and locked to hook.
  • Make sure that the hook rotates freely without grinding.

Daily Equipment Safety Checkout -Bottom Block Assembly:

Check bottom block assembly for:

  • Structural damage
  • Cracks in any component
  • Capacity markings are present
  • Sheaves rotate freely without grinding
  • Sheaves are smooth
  • Sheave guards are intact and unbroken

Daily Equipment Safety Checkout -Wire Rope and Loaded Chain:

  • Check wire rope and load chain by walking 360 degrees around the hook block and examining wire rope/chain.
  • Check that there’s no reduction in diameter.
  • Check that there are no broken wires.
  • Make sure there’s no kinking, cutting, crushing, un-stranding, or thermal damage to the wire rope.
  • Check that there are no cracks, gouges, nicks, corrosion, or distortion on any link of the load chain.
  • Ensure that there’s no wear at contact points.
  • Verify chain sprockets are operating smoothly.

Daily Equipment Safety Checkout -Miscellaneous Items:

  • Ensure the bridge and trolley motor brakes operate properly.
  • Check that there is little or no hook drift when releasing controls in the up or down position.
  • Check that the trolley and bridge are on-track and functioning smoothly.
  • Ensure there are no loose items on the crane that could fall
  • Check for oil leaks.
  • Ensure a working fire extinguisher is available if needed.
  • Check that air or hydraulic lines are in working condition.
  • And, ensure all below-the-hook devices are in good condition.

*Effective daily safety inspections are essential to the maintenance of an overhead crane system. It’s important to create a safety regimen following the inspection checklist listed above and to stop using the crane immediately if any malfunction, unusual noises or movements are detected.



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