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People are crippled or killed and enormous property damage is incurred as a direct result of crane mishaps. Most of these crane mishaps result from OPERATOR ERROR. The Naval Construction Force (NCF) has an extensive crane safety program that applies to crane operators and the safe operation of weight-handling equipment.

Standards for weight-handling equipment operations are outlined in the Management of Weight-Handling Equipment, NAVFAC P-307; NCF Equipment Management Manual, NAVFAC P-404; NMCB Equipment Management, COMSECOND/COMTHIRDNCBINST 11200.1; Use of Wire Rope Slings and Rigging Hardware in the NCF, COMSECOND/COMTHIRDNCBINST 11200.11; and Testing and Licensing of Construction Equipment Operators, NAVFAC P-306.


The skills and safety standards demanded for efficient crane operations require only mature professionals be assigned as crane operators and riggers. The supervisor of the crane crew is normally the best crane operator available within the battalion-wide assets and is assigned and designated in writing by the commanding officer. The equipment officer, the crane test director, and the crane crew supervisor share the responsibility of ensuring that any personnel that prepares, assembles, operates, or works with or around cranes are well trained in both safety and operating procedures.

Before you receive a license to operate a crane, crane operators are required to attend 40 hours of formal classroom instruction on crane operating safety, as outlined in NAVFAC P-306. Additionally, operators who need to renew their license must attend a minimum

Figure 12-34.-Dragline bucket.

8-hour refresher training course on crane operator safety.

The testing of crane operators is the direct responsibility of the crane certifying officer. The crane certifying officer may be assisted in administering a performance test by the crane test director. The equipment officer is normally responsible for the duties of the crane certifying officer and is designated in writing by the commanding officer. The crane certifying officer designates in writing the crane test director and all crane test personnel. Crane license is issued on the Construction Equipment Operator License, NAVFAC 11260/2, and will indicate the make, model, capacity, and the attachments the operator is qualified to operate.


The signalman is part of the crane crew and is responsible to the operator to give signals for lifting, swinging, and lowering loads. A signalman should be a qualified seasoned crane operator. Not only does the signalman give signals for handling loads but the signalman can visually observe what the operator cannot see from the operator's cab. For example, during a lift the signalman should make a visual check of the following:

1. The load hook is centered over the center of balance of the load, as the weight is being lifted by the crane.

2. The boom deflection does not exceed the safe load radius.

3. All the rigging gear is straight and not causing damage to itself or the load.

4. During a lift with a lattice boom crane, check the boom suspension system and boom hoist reeving to ensure proper operation.

5. Check the hook block and boom tip sheaves reeving to ensure proper operation.

6. Check the stability of the outriggers especially when swinging from one quadrant of operation to another.

NOTE: On some cranes, the capacity of the crane changes when swinging from the rear quadrant to over-the-side quadrant.

7. Use tag lines and tag line handlers to prevent the load from swinging or twisting.


Allowing personnel to control a load by the use of hands puts them in great danger should the load fall or some unexpted mishap occurs.

8. Signal only to lift the load high enough to clear any obstacles.

9. ALWAYS have eye-to-eye contact with the crane operator. The crane operator depends on the signalman to lift, swing, and lower a load safely.

The signalman must also know the load weight being lifted and the radius and capacity of the crane. The basic hand signals used throughout the NCF are in appendix IV of this TRAMAN. Only one person gives signals to the operator. The only time anyone else should give a signal is for an EMERGENCY STOP.


The rigger or riggers are responsible to the operator for properly attaching the rigging gear to the load. Rigging can be an extremely dangerous job if not properly performed. Safety gear, such as hard hats, steel-toed shoes, gloves, and any other personal safety clothing needed, must be worn.

Riggers and signalman must work closely together after the load is rigged. The signalman visually checks for proper rigging that the operator cannot visually see from the operator's cab. Once the rigging is approved, then the load can be signaled to be lifted.

NOTE: The operator has the final approval on any lift and has the ultimate responsibility for the crane lift and safety.


The operator pulls the levers on the crane and is directly responsible for the crane, the load rigging, and the lifts performed. You must know the crane, how to operate it, how it responds under loaded and unloaded conditions, proper rigging procedures, and signaling. You must be able to set the crane up properly for lifts, always keeping in mind that safety comes first and production second.

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