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Extreme Weather Hazards That New Crane Operators Should Know

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Overhead cranes are often set up and operated in challenging situations. Experienced operators know how to spot or counter those adverse conditions so that lifts can be completed on schedule. However, less experienced crane operators may not know when a risk is too high, resulting in jobsite accidents. This article discusses some extreme weather hazards that novice crane operators should look out for.

Extreme Cold: Loss of Tensile Strength

Cold weather can cause the lifting cables to lose their tensile strength. This is because the cold temperatures cause the wire cables to contract and become more brittle. Such cables can easily fail when they are used to lift a load. This problem can be combated by switching to hot-dipped cables made from galvanised steel when temperatures drop to freezing level. Alternatively, you can coat the cables with an epoxy mixture that reduces the impact of the cold weather on the integrity of the cables. Those epoxy mixtures can be obtained from crane hire firms or crane service centers.

Extreme Cold: Loss of Hydraulic Power

Cold temperatures may also have an adverse effect on the hydraulics of the crane. This is because the cold conditions can increase the viscosity of the fluid to a level that renders the system less effective. Similarly, other components of the hydraulic system can freeze during cold weather. You can overcome this challenge by providing an auxiliary heater for the gearbox and hydraulic system. You can also reduce the loads carried so that you don't strain the hydraulics during harsh weather. It may be safer for you to perform extra lifts rather than take the risk of carrying a full load when the hydraulics aren't performing at their best level.

Windy: Wind Tunnel Challenges

Crane manufacturers usually specify the maximum wind speed that each crane can tolerate before it becomes unsafe. You should be very careful when assessing the wind conditions at the jobsite. This is because several factors can affect the wind speed at your location. For instance, a tower crane set up between two buildings may be subjected to higher wind speeds because the wind is compressed within the narrow tunnel between the two buildings. Similarly, the wind speed may increase as the distance of the crane from the ground increases. It may be better to postpone or cancel a lift if you detect wind conditions that border on the limits of your tower crane.

Always consult experienced crane operators about the operating conditions at a job site before you start operating the crane. Their input will help you to hone your ability to make the right judgment about what actions you should take when you are faced with extreme weather conditions.