Should Crane Inspections and Preventive Maintenance be Treated the Same?

For many overhead crane inspection companies, performing OSHA inspections and preventive maintenance are considered two separate services for overhead cranes and hoists. Based on regulation criterion, I simply cannot ascertain how any experienced company or inspector might offer this limited service in good conscience.

Each OSHA inspection should include a complete preventive maintenance service. The OSHA CFR 1910.179 regulation, “Periodic Inspections,” provides the crane inspector with a simple 10-point checklist. However, the opening paragraph states that this inspection must include the requirements of a “Frequent Inspection.”

Two items listed in the “Frequent Inspection” checklist require more than just a visual inspection. They include checking all functional operating mechanisms for maladjustment interfering with proper operation, and checking all functional operating mechanisms for excessive wear of components. These two items alone tell us that a very thorough inspection will be required, meaning covers will be removed and, in many cases, components disassembled to confirm conditions and operations.

The inspection/preventive maintenance service also includes verifying that the equipment complies with ANSI B30.2 for top-riding double girder cranes, along with the inspection/maintenance requirements of the OEM. Additional requirements, such as NEC, CMAA specifications, and the ANSI standards for other material-handling equipment, including monorails, single girder cranes, and hoists, have to be considered.

Inspection details

Like many inspection companies, Advanced Overhead Crane, Crosby, Texas, uses a basic checklist that covers components of the unit being inspected and also doubles as a condition monitoring report. Components are evaluated for degree of wear and assigned a value. In determining the proper value, the inspector must take into account the degree of wear and the duty cycle of the equipment, along with the frequency of inspection and service maintenance to determine the life of the component going forward. The report also addresses recommendations to improve reliability and enhance safety of the equipment.

Another important tool the inspector has on site is a complete computerized history of each unit being inspected. Every crane or hoist serviced, inspected, or repaired • including any and all adjustments and corrections, no matter how small they may be • is incorporated in the computerized history file. The report helps recognize repetitious problems and allows the inspector to see exactly what has occurred with a particular unit over the years. It is invaluable when analyzed with the condition monitoring report.

While having computerized reports and fancy inspection checklists are fine, they are worthless if the inspector does not get into the equipment while inspecting it. This includes accessing the underside of the crane or hoist to inspect load-bearing components that are critical to the operation. Running a crane through an operational check and watching from the floor is not an inspection.

Compliance and education

The intent of all OSHA regulations and ANSI standards is to maintain a safe working environment, but the regulations and standards have not kept up with the new technology incorporated in the cranes and hoists of today. The inspector must know and understand the operations of the electronics and safety circuits incorporated in the new equipment being sold into the marketplace.

Continued education and training must be a major concern for all inspection companies. The Crane Certification Association of America, for example, offers the crane inspector's licensing program, as well as continued education programs for overhead and mobile cranes. A tower crane program is currently in the works. Additionally, many companies involved with CCAA offer inspector and operator training across the country.

Ensuring a degree of safety is the biggest challenge for overhead crane inspection companies. With continued training, a keen understanding of the equipment, and OSHA inspections and preventive maintenance performed as a single service makes certain your overhead cranes and hoists are working correctly.

Republished from the May-June 2008 Issue of Industrial Lift and Hoist magazine.

About the Author: 

Richard Wehrmeister

Richard Wehrmeister is co-owner of Advanced Overhead Crane, Crosby, Texas,and has been inspecting, servicing, and repairing cranes since 1974. By trade, Wehrmeister is a licensed master electrician and electrical contractor in Texas. Additionally, he maintains a California overhead cranes inspector license (CA283) and CCS certification as a licensed crane surveyor with the Crane Certification Association of America. For more information, visit