Safety & Law

Not all small cranes on the market today are actually legal or safe. Many foreign and domestic products claim to adhere to industry rules and follow safety agency guidelines and certifications, when in fact they skirt the laws out of ignorance and/or to keep costs low. Knowing the legal requirements of the small crane industry can save your company headaches, a jobsite accident, costs to replace equipment, lawsuits and even a death.

Rated at 150% (1.5): Some local agencies will approve a crane rated at 125% but all of the major national and international safety agencies (like ASME/ANSI/CE) require a design and build to 150% on all point loads on the load chart. That means if the machinery is rated at 1,000 lbs. it must hold 1,500 lbs. for one minute under load without frame damage or illegal boom flex to be legal. This is so important it is actually the first item examined in a crane related accident.

Dual safety stops on boom sections: All national and global safety agencies require two stop points on each boom section, so that the boom pieces cannot slide out and cause injury. This requires a permanent stop within the boom sections as well as a secondary stop using a pin system. Examine the design -- do the boom pieces slide in and out completely? Does the product use illegal connecting pieces such as a jib or fly extension with only one stop?

Rear brake: Some small cranes do not even have a required brake. A rear brake system is required by ALL safety agencies so the machinery cannot roll away causing an accident. If you don't see a brake on rear wheels -- this is a sign you are dealing with an unsafe machine. Does the product move/roll while performing a stationary lift? That's a sign of illegal design and build.

Safe design and build: Examine the design of a small crane. Is it safe to operate without the operator being in harm’s way? Is an operator’s face, clothes or hands near moving parts? For example, will an operator’s face be close to a winch? Is the load chart limit loaded with unrealistic weight and height for more sales? Will a load cause the machine to tip over at a certain height if wind catches it?

Designed for pick and carry: Some small cranes were designed to hoist stationary loads(like engines) yet they claim they can pick and carry. Examine the design –- is the small crane truly designed to move objects safely? Or is the company just claiming it is? For example it would be illegal to have a man under a load moving the front legs of a small crane while another man pushes it from the back. Being under a load would be considered illegal. Does it look like you have to FORCE the pick and carry function (wobbly, awkward to move)? If so it’s a sign of illegal activity.

Safety check valve: This is a requirement by safety agencies in case hydraulics fail. In case of emergency it would prevent the boom/load from slamming down.

3:1 rated hook: The top safety agencies' legal requirement for hooks is a 3 to 1 rating with safety latch. If a machine is rated at 2,000 lbs. the hook must be rated at 6,000 lbs. Many portable crane products are ignorant to this law. For example if a company advertises a 2,500 lb. machine and uses a 1,200 lb. winch double lined with a 2,000 lb. hook -- this is illegal. To be legal under ASME and CE law the hook would need to be rated at 7,500 lbs. (2,500 lbs. times 3). To claim 150% rating of load the 1,200 lb. winch would need to lift 3,750 lbs. safely. Needless to say, this small crane/engine hoist would be considered illegal.

Powdercoated safety color: It’s the law to have machinery colored for safety. The most effective safety color has proven to be yellow -- being more visible in daylight compared to red or other colors.

Legal boom deflection: Boom deflection is the percentage of flex/bending of a boom while cabling up a load. It is normal and legal for all cranes (large and small, all types) to have a slight deflection while cabling up heavy loads. However, there are legal limits. This goes back to safe design and build. If a crane manages to lift a heavy amount of weight yet has too much bending/deflection in the boom –- this is illegal. Does the boom appear to bounce up and down with a load? This is a sign of unsafe design and improper structural support.

No operator license needed: Only a machine rated 2,000 lbs.(1 ton) and below can claim that no operator license is required. All floor cranes and small cranes rated above 2,000 lbs. are REQUIRED to have EACH operator trained and licensed (consisting of 3-4 days training costing thousands of dollars per person). Will you need to pay for employee time and certify several operators to be legal? If the certified operator leaves the company, the investment will be lost. If there is a crane accident using a lift rated above 2,000 lbs. and your operator is not certified, you open yourself up to huge legal problems.

No comprehensive annual/monthly inspection: Cranes rated 2,000 lbs.(1 ton) and below are given much less legal maintenance requirements. Small cranes rated above 2,000 lbs. are required to undergo and report stringent annual or monthly inspections. This takes more time, more money and if not recorded properly can result in legal issues down the road.


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