Page 57 - Wire Rope News & Sling Technology - June 2019
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Denny’s                                           Crane “Safety”
         crane and                               65 years and I loved it!
                                                       from 1954 to 2019
         rigging notes

                                                               by Dennis J. O’Rourke, CSP

               lthough Hoisting equipment was developed  in the   heavy equipment maintenance mechanics, 24/7. To my knowl-
           A1500s, I started in 1954, as a Florida teenager in high   edge, there were two major crane accidents during that time.
          school. I helped maintain – part-time on the weekends, my   One was a collapsed outrigger beam and the other a booming
          family’s Sea Wall construction equipment. Mostly, I helped   failure with no fatalities. The operators and the cranes were
          my brother and uncle maintain a Bucyrus Erie 15-B crawler   certified and tested under the Navy P-300 (now P-306/307)
          crane, an Allis-Chalmers Dozer, and a Chevy five-ton flat-  standard. Just as many are today under OSHA/ASME.
          bed truck/trailer. We moved this equipment from job to job   What has changed when we now average 48 deaths and 245
          around the waterways throughout New Smyrna and Day-  accidents a year across the country? Well, a lot, cranes have
          tona Beach. I learned what this equipment did to build a   become “monsters.” Crews review complex assembly plans,
          sea wall and how important they were to our welfare. I was   test a multitude of safety devices, have meetings, computer
          proud of them and treated each like a pet.          printouts, need perfect weather, etc. just to make a single lift.
           This background landed me a job as a crane mechanic’s   When comparing the modern cranes to those of the 1950s,
          helper at the Space Center at Port Canaveral. As in my   where one person could comprehend all of a crane’s components,
          past, I studied to learn all about the Washington Star Por-  it is easy to see the numerous changes that took place. With this
          tal crane to which I was assigned and responsible. “Back in   development, personnel deficiencies have surfaced. In the cur-
          the day,” it was common to see lovable names on trucks and   rent Operating environment, is there the know-how and motiva-
          cranes like “Big Blue.” I didn’t think of the Portal crane as   tion to keep Cranes running and working as intended?
          a pet since it wasn’t mine, but I did name it “Tote.”During
          the three years I spent on “Tote,” it passed the Navy P-300
          annual crane inspections and certifications with zero defi-
          ciencies. I don’t notice people naming cranes anymore, just
          numbers like 16000, XCMG400, LS-248H5, etc.
           In the 60’s we used the word “Safety” at Cape Canaveral
          when we referred to Pad Safety, Fire Safety, or Missile Safe-
          ty tests, but I don’t remember anyone talking about Crane
          Safety. A person ether used a crane correctly for a job or
          incorrectly and caused an incident. You knew what a crane
          could do and prepared it for the work.
           From 1958 to 1966, when I worked for Pan America, they
          operated about 40 cranes with maybe 55 operators and 18                                               Photos courtesy of Dennis O’Rourke

                                                               Modular manufacturing methods and a building’s footprint
                                                              land cost calculated in square inches have pushed owners to
                                                              cut building times and go higher to make a profit. The new
                                                              work  demands that crane  loads become gigantic, building
                                                              taller, and longer distances between the operator’s controls
                                                              and the load. A crane is many times more complicated now
                                                              and relies on dependable automatic electronic safety devic-
                                                              es. It is made from modern materials that must be handled,
                                                              maintained, and assembled with the greatest of precision.
                                                              Numerous  crew  members must  be adequately motivated,
                                                              trained, and coordinated to accomplish a successful lift.
                                                               Are we reaching the practical limits for Hoisting methods
                                                              developed in the 1500s? Can the thirst for more profits be
                                                              quenched to allow for a safer craning  environment?  How
                                                              high is too high – how much is too much? Like Dorothy, in
                                                              the “Wizard of Oz,” said to her pet - “Toto, I don’t think we’re
                                                              in Kansas anymore” – how true! n
                                                               DENNIS J. O’ROURKE, CSP, is the Director of National Crane Services, Inc. He has over
                                                              fifty years’ experience in the industrial, maritime, and construction fields working with heavy
                                                              equipment and material handling devices. As a safety engineer, Mr. O’Rourke has developed
                                                              and/or presented over 300 safety-training programs for all representative elements of govern-
                                                              ment and industry.
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