The “Dos And Don’ts” Of Overhead Crane Equipment

Overhead crane equipment is designed to move large, heavy, and bulky loads by lifting, lowering and transporting its payload horizontally through an operation’s overhead space. Cranes improve handling efficiency and throughput while optimizing facility space, minimizing product damage, and increasing employee safety. Operations planning to add an overhead crane to their facility — or those with one or more overhead cranes already in use — have a variety of responsibilities that are critical to the safe operation of this equipment. That’s why the Crane Manufacturers Association of America (CMAA) publishes multiple specifications and technical papers for the design, operation and service of cranes. In addition, the members of (CMAA) have also assembled a list of overhead crane equipment “Dos and Don’ts.” Following these recommendations will enhance both the integrity and reliability of the equipment, as well as reduce the risk of injury for workers as they operate the crane or work in proximity to it.

Overhead Crane Equipment Dos…

  • Do understand the CMAA duty cycle (frequency of use, type of load, and average load weight) of the crane application when specifying/purchasing the equipment. While it may cost more, a crane that is properly sized to meet the task at hand will last longer and not require premature replacement of motors, brakes, electrical components and other key mechanisms.
  • Do read the owner’s manual. These informational documents — developed by the crane’s manufacturer — contain specifications, dimensions, operation instructions, inspection criteria, parts lists, and more.
  • Do understand that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires facility operators to provide their employees with equipment that is both safe and operates property.
  • Do inspect the crane prior to the start of each shift before operation, as well as at frequent and periodic intervals.
  • Do understand that cranes used in harsh environments and/or with a higher duty cycle will require frequent and periodic inspections to be performed more often.
  • Do perform regular preventive maintenance as specified by the crane manufacturer to ensure long service life.
  • Do engage independent crane service and inspection professionals with experience on the specific equipment if outsourcing preventive maintenance and repairs.
  • Do ensure all employees/operators who will use the crane have been trained on its proper use and operation by someone who has experience with the equipment.
  • Do follow all safety precautions specified by the manufacturer of the crane when operating the equipment.

Overhead Crane Equipment Don’ts…

  • Do not buy a crane that is undersized for the application. While it may save on the initial investment, a crane built to specifications that do not match the actual operation, process, environment, or load requirements will be prone to more frequent breakdowns and premature replacement of key components.
  • Do not misplace or throw away the owner’s manual. This document is a critical resource for owners and operators of overhead cranes.
  • Do not allow an operator to rig a load without first having proper training.
  • Do not attempt to lift a load that exceeds the capacity rating of the crane.
  • Do not use the crane more frequently than its duty cycle specifies.
  • Do not slam the bridge or trolleys into the end stops; doing so will cause premature wear on the equipment.
  • Do not use the crane for any purpose outside its specified function.
  • Do not allow untrained operators to use the crane.

Looking for more information on overhead crane systems? Available to answer any questions, CMAA members represent the industry’s leading suppliers of overhead crane systems. With the combined experience of more than 30,000 crane installations in North America over the last decade, CMAA members are committed to providing products focused on both safety and innovation. Additionally, the group offers a variety of resources—including buyers’ guides, engineering specifications, OSHA Alliance safety tip and fact sheets, inspection and maintenance checklists, safety seminars and more — via its website at