Crane Operations

Crane Operations

The crane operator shall be familiar with and shall follow manufacturer operating procedures in order to safely operate the crane.  In addition, the crane shall be operated in accordance with all local, state, and federal guidelines.  Cranes shall also be operated within the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines.  Proper permitting and notifications, if applicable, are the responsibility of the crane contractor.

Written information regarding the ground conditions of the area where the crane will be operated will be provided to the contractor responsible for the crane and its operations prior to the assembly of the crane.  Known underground hazards (such as steam lines, underground vaults, voids, tanks, utilities, underground building encumbrances, etc.) identified in drawings, documents, soil analyses, or otherwise known or recognized as potential hazards will be presented to the operator by Princeton University’s Civil Engineering group.  Ground conditions must meet the conditions identified in the standard prior to assembly / disassembly of the crane (i.e. firm, drained, graded soils, sufficient to support the crane in conjunction with blocking or mats).

Assembly/Disassembly of a crane must be supervised by a person who is considered both a competent and qualified person.

Prior to assembling the crane, the contractor must determine if any part of the equipment, load line, or load (including rigging and lifting accessories) can come closer than 20 feet to a power line.  If so, the contractor must meet the requirements set forth in 29 CFR 1926.1407 through 29 CFR 1926.1411.  For electric transmission and distribution lines rated 50 kV or less, a minimum distance of 10 feet must be maintained from any part of the crane or its load unless the lines are de-energized and visibly grounded.  For lines rated over 50kV, the clearance distance should be increased in accordance with Table A in 29 CFR 1926.1408 which provides minimum clearance distances when working in proximity to power lines.

Prior to operation, the crane must have all safety devices and operational aids installed and functioning properly as defined in the standard.

The crane operator shall have available at all times, in the cab or the operators station of the crane, the operators manual, maintenance manual, load charts, and current annual inspection.  ANSI’s Standard Hand Signals for Lifting shall be posted on the crane or in a nearby conspicuous location. 

It is the responsibility of the crane operator to cease crane operations whenever deficiencies are identified in an inspection, or when wind speeds or adverse weather conditions could affect the safe operation of the crane. The crane operator must obey a stop (or emergency stop) signal no matter who gives it.  The operator also has the authority to stop operation whenever there is a concern as to safety.  The operator can refuse to handle loads until a qualified person has determined that safety has been assured.

The path of each load must be planned to prevent swinging loads from passing over workers.  It is the responsibility of the subcontractor to utilize the necessary precautions (barricades, horns, spotters) to keep workers out of the swing path.  At no time are workers permitted to stand beneath suspended or swinging loads.

No lifting of personnel will be permitted until a qualified person and engineer have verified and approved of the plan ensuring that all requirements of the standard have been met and that no additional potential safety hazards exist.   Princeton University reserves the right to review and cancel, for any reason, any lift plan / operation that intends to use a crane to lift personnel.

Swing Radius/Work Area

Each employee who works in or near the crane, is required to be trained in the hazards associated with and how to recognize “struck by and pinch / crush” hazard areas.

Control lines, warning lines, guardrails, or barriers must be erected and maintained in order to mark the boundary of the hazard area and keep untrained individuals outside the area.

Once in the hazard area, an employee is required to notify the operator of their presence any time that they have gone to a location inside the hazard area that may be outside the view of the operator and will no longer be within the view of the operator.  The operator shall not rotate the equipment until the employee has indicated that they are in a safe position.

No employees are allowed within the fall zone (whether the crane is moving or not) except for employees who meet the falling conditions:

  • They are engaged in hooking, unhooking, guiding, or receiving a load.
  • They are engaged in the initial attachment of the load to a component or structure.
  • They are operating a concrete hopper or bucket.

If employees are within the fall zone and are engaged in hooking, unhooking, guiding a load, or the initial attachment of the load, the following conditions must be met:

  • The material being hoisted must be rigged to prevent unintentional displacement.
  • Hooks with self-closing latches or the equivalent must be used.
  • The materials must be rigged by a qualified rigger.

The rigging of all equipment shall be performed by a qualified rigger.  The qualified rigger shall inspect all rigging equipment prior to each lift, and any equipment found to be worn, damaged, or defective shall be removed from service immediately.  Synthetic slings must not be used where the potential for the webbing to be cut exists.  Softeners shall be provided where necessary to protect slings, regardless of type, against sharp edges.


A qualified signal person must be provided when any of the following conditions exist:

  • The point of operation is not in full view of the operator.
  • When the equipment is traveling, and the view in the direction of travel is obstructed.
  • Whenever the operator or person handling the load determines the site specific safety concerns warrant a signal person.

The signal person and the operator must meet prior to the beginning of the operation and discuss and agree upon a method of communication.  If hand signals are utilized, both the operator and the signal person must provide documented proof of training of the “Standard Method” of hand signals as can be found in Appendix A of OSHA’s crane standard.

If radios or cell phones are used to communicate, they must be tested on-site prior to beginning operations.  They must be transmitted through a dedicated channel unless there are multiple cranes and shared communications are required for coordination.

Fall Protection

Fall protection shall be provided any time an employee is exposed to a fall hazard greater than 6 feet.  Anchor points as well as training in the use of fall protection systems must meet subpart M requirements and criteria.

Crane Maintenance

Maintenance, inspection, and repair personnel are permitted to operate the equipment only when the following requirements are met:

  • The operation is limited to the functions necessary to perform maintenance, inspect the equipment, or verify its performance.
  • The operation is completed under the direct supervision of a properly licensed operator or the maintenance personnel are familiar with the operation limitations, characteristics and hazards associated with the type of equipment being worked on.
  • Maintenance and repair personnel must be a qualified person with respect to the equipment and repair tasks performed.


Program Manager
Civil Engineer,
Facilities Operations