There are a number of factors involved in crane accidents, such as overloading, obstructed vision, poor signaling, and more. Because cranes weigh anywhere from 10 tons to over 400 tons, they can easily inflict serious injury and death if they aren’t operated correctly. In the news recently, we read about a two-crane tip over in Germany. Thankfully, the tip over didn’t kill any workers on site.

What We Know:

Authorities aren’t able to say for sure what caused the accident; a formal investigation is taking place. From what we do know, the Jumbo Vision (a delivery ship) loaded two mobile cranes onboard. The ship crane’s boom struck one of the 439-ton cranes just loaded, which pushed it over the edge and into the harbor. The weight of that crane falling over forced the boat to tip the other way, throwing the second crane over the edge as well.

Liebherr, the crane manufacturer, stated, “The ship tilted and both cranes slipped into the harbor basin. The two mobile cranes were for export and had been loaded onto the special ship with the ship cranes.” (

From the little information we have, one thing stands out. There seemed to be a lack of communication between the ship crane operator and those working onboard. Communication is crucial in all crane operations to keep people safe.

In fact, in some environments, it’s necessary to use signalers for load handling. For cranes, there are designated hand signals which must be posted on the crane and site, visible to operators at all times. You can decide what sign signifies what actions, but everyone must be familiar with them and use the same signs.

Crane Regulations:

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lists standards for signalers in crane operations. According to 29 CFR 1926.1428(c), a signaler must do all of the following:

  • “Know and understand the type of signals used. If hand signals are used, the signal person must know and understand the Standard Method for hand signals.Crane signaler
  • Be competent in the application of the type of signals used.
  • Have a basic understanding of equipment operation and limitations, including the crane dynamics involved in swinging and stopping loads and boom deflection from hoisting loads.’
  • Know and understand the relevant requirements of § 1926.1419-1422 and § 1926.1428.
  • Demonstrate that he/she meets the requirements in paragraphs (c)(1) through (4) of this section through an oral or written test, and through a practical test.” (OSHA)

We are glad no one was seriously injured during this accident. It’s a crucial reminder about using proper communication on the worksite. Remember, safe crane operations will not only save your company thousands of dollars, but it will keep you alive. That’s something you can’t put a price on.

For more information on crane operations, visit our website.

Good luck and stay safe!

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