November 2012

Preventing Incidents During Assembly and Disassembly of Cranes

In January of 2012, General President Wise commissioned the Zero Fatality campaign to address incident trends that have resulted in fatalities and disabling injuries to our members throughout the United States and Canada. The focus of this article is to highlight some of the hazards and regulatory requirements pertaining to the assembly and disassembly of cranes. This article is not intended be all inclusive and cannot address all the regulatory requirements and hazards pertaining to the assembly and disassembly of cranes. The Ironworkers National Training Fund has developed an apprentice and journeymen upgrading training course that addresses specific types of cranes and corresponding instruction.

Fatality facts during assembly and disassembly of cranes

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimated that 89 crane-related fatalities occur per year in the construction industry. Fatality reports obtained from OSHA revealed that the assembly and disassembly of cranes accounted for 21% of the total fatalities during crane operations. Following is a break-down of fatality causation data that was reviewed by OSHA and other parties during the revision of the OSHA Subpart CC - Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard.

Defining the Responsibilities of the Assembly/Disassembly Director

In response to fatalities occurring during assembly/disassembly of various types of cranes, the following OSHA standards were promulgated to establish supervisor responsibilities for the "assembly/disassembly director." It is important for our members to recognize the new requirements and responsibilities for supervisors acting as the "assembly/disassembly director."

1926.1404 Assembly/Disassembly--general requirements (applies to all assembly and disassembly operations).

(a) Supervision--competent-qualified person.

 (1) Assembly/disassembly must be directed by a person who meets the criteria for both a competent person and a qualified person, or by a competent person who is assisted by one or  more qualified persons ("A/D director").

 (2) Where the assembly/disassembly is being performed by only one person, that person must meet the criteria for both a competent person and a qualified person. For purposes of this  standard, that person is considered the A/D director.

(b) Knowledge of procedures. The A/D director must understand the applicable assembly/disassembly procedures.

(c) Review of procedures. The A/D director must review the applicable assembly/disassembly procedures immediately prior to the commencement of assembly/disassembly unless the A/D director understands the procedures and has applied them to the same type and configuration of equipment (including accessories, if any).

(d) Crew instructions.

  (1) Before commencing assembly/disassembly operations, the A/D director must ensure that the crew members understand all of the following:
  (i) Their tasks.
  (ii) The hazards associated with their tasks.
  (iii) The hazardous positions/locations that they need to avoid.

  (2) During assembly/disassembly operations, before a crew member takes on a different task, or when adding new personnel during the operations, the requirements in paragraphs (d)(1) (i) through (d)(1)(iii) of this section must be met.

(e) Protecting assembly/disassembly crew members out of operator view.

  (1) Before a crew member goes to a location that is out of view of the operator and is either in, on, or under the equipment, or near the equipment (or load) where the crew member  could be injured by movement of the equipment (or load), the crew member must inform the operator that he/she is going to that location.

  (2) Where the operator knows that a crew member went to a location covered by paragraph (e)(1) of this section, the operator must not move any part of the equipment (or load) until  the operator is informed in accordance with a pre-arranged system of communication that the crew member is in a safe position.

(f) Working under the boom, jib or other components.
 (1) When pins (or similar devices) are being removed, employees must not be under the boom, jib, or other components, except where the requirements of paragraph (f)(2) of this section  are met.

 (2) Exception. Where the employer demonstrates that site constraints require one or more employees to be under the boom, jib, or other components when pins (or similar devices) are  being removed, the A/D director must implement procedures that minimize the risk of unintended dangerous movement and minimize the duration and extent of exposure under the boom. (See  Non-mandatory Appendix B of this subpart for an example.)

(g) Capacity limits. During all phases of assembly/disassembly, rated capacity limits for loads imposed on the equipment, equipment components (including rigging), lifting lugs and equipment accessories, must not be exceeded for the equipment being assembled/disassembled.

(h) The Assembly/Disassembly Director must address specific hazards. The A/D director supervising the assembly/disassembly operation must address the hazards associated with the operation, which include:

 (1) Site and ground bearing conditions. Site and ground conditions must be adequate for safe assembly/disassembly operations and to support the equipment during assembly/disassembly.

 (2) Blocking material. The size, amount, condition and method of stacking the blocking must be sufficient to sustain the loads and maintain stability.

 (3) Proper location of blocking.

 (4) Verifying assist crane loads. When using an assist crane, the loads that will be imposed on the assist crane at each phase of assembly/disassembly must be verified before   assembly/disassembly begins.

 (5) Boom and jib pick points. The point(s) of attachment of rigging to a boom (or boom sections or jib or jib sections) must be suitable for preventing structural damage and   facilitating safe handling of these components.

 (6) Determining the center of gravity.

 (7) Stability upon pin removal. The boom sections, boom suspension systems (such as gantry A-frames and jib struts), and components must be rigged or supported to maintain stability  upon the removal of the pins.

 (8) Snagging. Suspension ropes and pendants must not be allowed to catch on the boom or jib connection pins or cotter pins (including keepers and locking pins).

 (9) Struck by counterweights. The potential for unintended movement from inadequately supported counterweights and from hoisting counterweights.

 (10) Boom hoist brake failure. Each time reliance is to be placed in the boom hoist brake to prevent boom movement during assembly/disassembly; the brake must be tested prior to such  reliance to determine if it is sufficient to prevent boom movement. If it is not sufficient, a boom hoist pawl, other locking device/back-up braking device, or another method of preventing dangerous movement of the boom (such as blocking or using an assist crane) from a boom hoist brake failure must be used.

 (11) Loss of backward stability. Backward stability before swinging the upperworks, travel, and when attaching or removing equipment components.

 (12) Wind speed and weather. The effect of wind speed and weather on the equipment.

(i) [Reserved.]

(j) Cantilevered boom sections. Manufacturer limitations on the maximum amount of boom supported only by cantilevering must not be exceeded. Where these are unavailable, a registered professional engineer familiar with the type of equipment involved must determine in writing this limitation, which must not be exceeded.

(k) Weight of components. The weight of each of the components must be readily available.

(l) [Reserved.]

(m) Components and configuration.

 (1) The selection of components, and configuration of the equipment, that affect the capacity or safe operation of the equipment.

 (2) Post-assembly inspection.

(n) [Reserved.]

(o) Shipping pins. Reusable shipping pins, straps, links, and similar equipment must be removed. Once they are removed they must either be stowed or otherwise stored so that they do not present a falling object hazard.

(p) Pile driving. Equipment used for pile driving must not have a jib attached during pile driving operations.

(q) Outriggers and Stabilizers.

(r) Rigging.

The 2012 Zero Fatality campaign will challenge all members to intervene and prevent unsafe conditions and unsafe acts in the workplace. The assembly and disassembly of cranes is one of important work assignments that our members perform on the job sites throughout the country. It also remains one of the deadly dozen hazardous activities that require training and expertise to avoid serious incidents. I will continue to work closely with district councils, local unions, and IMPACT regional advisory boards throughout the United States and Canada to promote the 2012 Zero Fatality and help raise the standard of safety performance for our members.