Boom Safety

Heavy items can be lifted safely if the boom truck crane is operated properly. Each time the boom lifts a load, its angle changes as it extends, and the crane’s upper deck rotates to swing the load. With that motion, the distance from the load’s center of gravity to the crane’s tipping axis changes. These movements can make a boom truck unstable, especially if the crane’s lift capacity is exceeded. The crane can overturn, and the boom can collapse. Each year, on average, incidents involving the use of cranes kill 50 U.S. workers.

If you will be operating a boom truck:Click It!

  • Check to see that it has been properly inspected and is certified for operation.
  • Perform an operational inspection as required for boom truck cranes.
  • Be sure support blocking is securely placed.
  • Always check the weight of the load and rigging. Do NOT lift a load that exceeds the crane’s capacity.
  • Always check the wind speed to make sure it is safe for lifting the loads.
  • Always use proper blocking methods to adequately support boom sections during disassembly.
  • Always warn others of moving and approaching overhead loads.
  • Do NOT operate the crane unless you have been trained and authorized to operate the crane and give signals.
  • Do NOT operate the crane unless you and the signal persons are in direct, clear view or in headset communication.

If you are working around a boom truck, always obey warning signs, especially those that are posted in critical areas.

Acceptable lift conditions

  • Position the boom truck in a manner that the boom will maintain a minimum of 10 feet from power lines or 10 feet, plus 4 inches for every increase in 10Kv power intensity.
  • Position the boom truck in a manner in which to ensure stability. (For example, both stabilizers can fully extend and lower; the surface is such that the operator can use the stabilizers with or without additional padding, etc.)
  • Position the boom truck in a manner to avoid striking any object or person.

Unacceptable lift conditions

You must empower and authorize the operator to refuse to make any lift that he or she determines he or she cannot make safely.

  • Do not position the boom truck in a manner that the boom cannot maintain the required distance specified by OSHA.
  • Do not position the boom truck in a manner in which the operator cannot ensure stability. (For example, both stabilizers cannot fully extend and lower; the surface is so soft that the operator cannot use the stabilizers even with additional padding, etc.)
  • Do not position the boom truck in a manner in which the operator cannot avoid striking an object or person.
  • The wind is judged to be blowing hard enough to prevent a safe lift.
  • Any other situation in which the operator does not believe he or she can run the boom truck safely.

Bernardo’s Story

A boom truck crane was being used to lift steel beams to the 4th floor of a building being constructed. The operator did not know the beams exceeded the crane’s capacity. The heavy load caused the crane boom to buckle and collapse, dropping the load to the ground. Bernardo, who was working nearby, saw what was happening and was able to alert other workers to get out of the way in time. In this incident no one was hurt, but it put the operator, Bernardo, and other nearby workers in danger.

  • How could this incident have been avoided?
  • Have you known or heard of anyone who was injured or killed while operating a boom truck crane because it collapsed or dropped its load? If so, what happened?