What Does An Annual OSHA Crane Inspection Entail?

What Does An Annual OSHA Crane Inspection Entail?

Why Does My Crane Need An Inspection and How Do They Increase Safety?

All cranes need to be actively inspected annually. Daily and weekly usage of cranes put wear on important components. The wear and tear on crane components can lead to a breakdown, damage, or failure can put your company at risk and hinder work progress.

Who Is Qualified To Inspect My Crane?

According to the Crane Manufacturers Association of America (CMAA), a crane inspector needs to have more than 2000 hours of field experience with direct relations with maintenance, servicing, repairing, functional testing, and more.

Besides these basic requirements, a crane inspector should also have complete formal training in the areas like:

  • Safety And Design Codes Related To Overhead Cranes
  • Knowledge Of The Federal, State, And Local Codes And Standards
  • Operating Cranes And House Practices With Safety
  • Understanding How To Write A Report And Documentation Procedures
  • Extensive Knowledge Of Crane Functioning And Terminologies To Communicate

Operational Considerations for Crane Inspections

Prior to inspecting any crane, the inspector will want to observe the overall crane operations with respect to load capacity, site coordination, and any job site restrictions in effect. The inspector will know the basic lifting principles that govern the crane and safety during a lift.

The first principle is the Center of Gravity. It is the point where the weight of an object can be concentrated and where the weight is evenly distributed. On a mobile crane, the center of gravity depends primarily on the weight and location of its heaviest components (counterweight, boom, upperworks, carrier).

Leverage is the second principle. Rotation of the upperworks (boom, counterweight, load) changes the location of the crane’s center of gravity. The change of center of gravity also changes the tipping axis to change. Through the use of a load chart, the crane’s rated capacity is altered to compensate for those changes in leverage.

Operational Considerations for Crane Inspections

Stability is the relationship between the load weight, the angle of the boom, and its radius (distance from the cranes center of rotation to the center of the load) to the center of gravity of the load. The stability of the crane also relies on the ground being stable through the use of mats or blocking to maintain a level, stable condition.


It is important for the inspector to examine the crane in motion. Cranes can fail structurally if overloaded enough. Structural failure can occur before stability failure. A mobile crane’s structure may fail long before it tips. Structural failure damage may be caused by overstressing, bending, and twisting of the components. When a crane is stressed, the damage may not be apparent. Overstressed parts will result in failure at a future time.

Finally, Structural Integrity will be observed. This includes the crane’s mainframe, crawler track or outrigger supports, boom section, and attachments. In addition, wire ropes, stationary supports, and attachment points will be inspected to help determine the lifting capacity and the structural integrity of the crane’s lifting capacity.

Stability failures will be obvious; however, a structural failure is almost impossible to predict when a component may fail.
Understanding crane principles and observing crane operations provide inspectors with insight into any issues with respect to load capacity, site coordination, and any job site restrictions prior to inspecting the crane. Observation of the crane’s operation may indicate problem areas that will require a closer look during the inspection.

Pre-Inspection – The inspector will want to see the past inspection records and maintenance records for the crane. He also will want to see the manufacturer’s operator manual and load charts for the crane.

These records should be readily available, and the operator’s manual is required to be always in the cab.
The inspector will also want to meet with the crane operator to ask questions regarding the crane’s capacity and site restriction imposed, due to activity involved or functional limitations.

How Do Crane Service and Inspections Take Place?

The crane inspector will look at the crane set up to check for leveling, observe the outriggers to make sure, where applicable, that they are extended and being used in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
The inspector will inspect the stability of the crane and its structural integrity. Once completed, he will begin the annual safety inspection.
The annual inspection determines the need for repair or replacement of components to keep the machine in proper operating condition. It includes items listed for daily inspections, as well as, structural defects, wear, and tear, hydraulic or air leaks.
The inspection typically will begin with a walk around paying attention to any system leaks or damage (oil, hydraulic, air) and structural deficiencies.
Crane Cab – The crane cab will have properly marked controls, the instruments shall be undamaged, the cab clear of debris, windshield clear, load charts properly displayed, and legible. Check mechanical boom angle indicators, wipers, dash lights, warning lights and buzzers, fire extinguishers, seat belts, horns.

What Are The Main Inspection Items Involved in a Crane Inspection?

Following is a list of Crane inspection items by OSHA and a brief description.

  • Manufacturer Operating & Maintenance Manuals – must be in the cab
  • Guarding – exposed moving parts are guarded or isolated
  • Swing Clearance Protection – Materials for guarding rear swing area
  • High Voltage Warning Sign – must be installed in the cab, as well as, locations on the outside of the crane.
  • Boom Stops – Shock absorbers or hydraulic boom stops are installed
  • Jib Boom Stops – Jibs stops to resist overturning
  • Boom Angle Indicator – readable from operator’s station
  • Boom Hoist Disconnect – disconnect to shut off or automatically stop the boom hoist when it reaches a determined angle.
  • Two Blocking Device – Cranes with telescoping booms should be equipped with a two-blocking damage prevention feature that has been tested on-site in accordance with manufacturers’ requirements. All cranes hydraulic and fixed boom used to hoist personnel must be equipped with two- blocking devices on all hoist lines intended to be used in the operation. The anti-two-blocking device has automatic capabilities for controlling functions that may cause a two-blocking condition.
  • Power Controlled Lowering – Cranes used to hoist personnel must be equipped for power-controlled lowering operation on all hoist lines. Clutch, chains, and sprockets are checked for wear.
  • Leveling Indicating Device – A device used to make sure the crane is level.
  • Sheaves – Sheave grooves shall be smooth and free from surface defects, cracks, or worn places that could cause rope damage. Flanges must not be broken, cracked, or chipped. The bottom of the sheave-groove must form a close-fitting saddle for the rope being used. Lower load blocks must be equipped with close-fitting guards.
  • Main Hoist and Auxiliary Drum System – Drum crushing is a rope condition sometimes observed which indicates deterioration of the rope. Spooling is that characteristic of a rope that affects how it wraps onto and off a drum. Spoiling is affected by the care and skill with which the first larger of wraps are applied on the drum. Manufacturer’s criteria during inspection usually specify:
    A minimum number of wraps to remain on the drum. Condition of drum grooves. Condition of flanges at the end of the drum. Rope end attachment. Spooling characteristics of rope. Rope condition.
  • Main Boom, Jib Boom, Boom Extension – Boom jibs, or extensions, must not be cracked or corroded. Bolts and rivets must be tight. Certification that repaired boom members meet manufacturers’ original design standards shall be documented.
  • Load Hooks and Hook Blocks – Hooks and blocks must be permanently labeled with rated capacity. Hooks and blocks are counterweighted to the weight of the overhaul line from the highest hook position. Hooks must not have cracks or throat openings more than 15% of normal or twisted off center more than 10′ from the longitudinal axis. All hooks used to hoist personnel must be equipped with effective positive safety catches -especially on hydraulic cranes.
    Hydraulic Hoses, Fittings & Tubing – Flexible hoses must be sound and show no signs of leaking at the surface or its junction with the metal and couplings. Hoses must not show blistering or abnormal deformation to the outer covering and no leaks at threaded or clamped joints that cannot be eliminated by normal tightening or recommended procedures. There should be no evidence of excessive abrasion or scrubbing on the outer surfaces of hoses, rigid tubing, or hydraulic fittings.
  • Outriggers – Outrigger numbers, locations, types, and types of control are in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications. Outriggers are designed and operated to relieve all weight from wheels or tracks within the boundaries of the outriggers. They must be visible to the operator or signal person during extension or setting.
  • Load Rating Chart – A durable rating chart(s) with legible letters and figures must be attached to the crane in a location accessible to the operator while at the controls.
  • Wire Rope – Main hoist and auxiliary wire rope inspection should include examining for Broken wires, excess wear. external damage from crushing, kinking, cutting, or corrosion.
  • Braking System – Truck cranes and self-propelled cranes mounted on rubber-tired chassis or frames must be equipped with a service brake system, a secondary stopping emergency brake system, and a parking brake system. – Crawler cranes are provided with brakes or other locking devices that effectively hold the machine stationary on level grade during the working cycle. The braking system must be capable of stopping and holding the machine on the maximum grade recommended for travel. The brakes or locks are arranged to engage or remain engaged in the event of loss of operating pressure or power
  • Turntable/Crane Body – Make sure that the rotation point of crane gears and rollers are free of damage, wear, and properly adjusted and the components are securely locked and free of cracks or damage. The swing locking mechanism must be functional (pawl, pin) and operated in the cab.
  • Counterweight – The counterweight must be approved and installed according to the manufacturer’s specifications with attachment points secured.

When Must Crane Inspections Take Place according to OSHA?

OSHA 1926.1400 and ASME B305 divide (Overhead and mobile cranes) crane inspections into four different categories. Initial, Functional,Daily (Frequent) Inspections and Periodic Inspections (annually or after the repair or replacement of parts).

Initial Crane Inspection

The initial inspection is a documented visual inspection which is mandated after the installation of a new crane ofor a hoist. This inspection is also completed after the reinstallation, repair, or modification of cranes.

Functional Test Inspection

The functionality of every crane is checked before it’s use. Here are some basic guidelines for the functionality test of an crane:

  • Checking the operational mechanism for estimated interference during operation
  • Checking for leaks or damage in lines, tanks, valves, drain pumps, and more.
  • Checking for excessive wear and tear, twit, distortion links, or end connections due to extensive usage beyond recommendation.
  • Checking for the hooks with any deformation or cracks
  • Checking the rope reeving for noncompliance with manufacturer recommendation on a weekly interval

Daily Inspections

Daily/Frequent inspections are usually performed at the start of each shift by the operator who walks around the crane looking for defects or problem areas. Components that have a direct bearing on the safety of the crane and whose status can change from day to day with use must be inspected daily, and when possible, observed during operation for any defects that could affect safe operation. To help determine when the crane is safe to operate, daily inspections should be made at the start of each shift.

Periodic Inspections

The periodic/annual crane inspection procedure is intended to determine the need for repair or replacement of components to keep the machine in proper operating condition. It includes those items listed for daily inspections as well as, but not limited to, structural defects, excessive wear, and hydraulic or air leaks.

What are the Most Common OSHA Violations Involving Cranes?

OSHA reports that the most common violations involving cranes are:

  • Signal Person is not qualified – OSHA requires a signal person to be qualified when the operator does not have a full view of the operation, the operator’s view is obstructed in the direction the equipment is moving, and when the operator and/or the person moving the load feel that a signal person is needed.
  • Materials Not Rigged By A Qualified Rigger – OSHA requires riggers to be qualified when rigging a load that will be handled by employees in the fall zone and when rigging in connection with assembly/disassembly work. Rigging the load is the most important job of any crane operation. Poor rigging may result in personal injury, property damage, equipment damage, or more serious hazards.
  • Failure to Have Documentation of the Qualified Signal Person – The site supervisor/employer must have written documentation available at the worksite that the signal person is qualified to do the type of signaling used. A signal person must successfully pass a written and practical evaluation and documentation must be provided.
    The definition of a Qualified Person is someone who by possessing a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing and successfully demonstrating knowledge, training, and experience along with the ability to solve and/or resolve issues related to the work.
  • Failure to Perform Periodic/Annual Inspections -Cranes must be inspected at least every 12 months and documentation must be available for review stating the date, inspector’s name, inspection check-off sheet, and deficiencies found if any.
  • Failure to Determine working radius around a power line is not within 20 feet – The work zone must be identified as 360 degrees around the equipment and marked off with cones, flags, rope, etc. Electrocution results in an average of 15 operators per year coming into contact with power lines.
  • Operators Manuals, Load Charts, and other Documentation are not in the cab. The operator’s manual must be readily available to the operator in the cab at all times.
  • Missing Original Labels Supplied by Manufacturer – Warning labels, decals, etc. originally equipped by the manufacturer must be on the equipment and readable.

Factors in the Cost of How Much Do Annual Crane Inspections Cost?

There are several factors that determine the inspection cost of crane inspection. While there are several types of cranes, each crane has its own list of unique inspection criteria that needs to be fit for a complete and effective inspection.
Here are some of the major factors that can affect the cost of an crane inspection:

  • The number of cranes – The number of cranes on-site majorly affects the cost of your inspection.
  • Capacity – the higher the capacity of the crane, the more an inspection will cost
  • Components –the number of components that need to be inspected on an individual crane will increase the inspection cost.
  • Time – As with the components, the more time required for the inspection, the more expensive the crane inspection.
  • Environment and Accessibility – If your crane is located in a hazardous area that makes it difficult to maneuver, the cost of a crane inspection will be subsequently higher.

How Long Do I Need to Keep Crane Inspection Records?

While it is probably prudent to keep inspection records indefinitely, you are required to keep records of daily, periodic, and annual inspections in the crane which shall indicate any deficiencies found during those inspections and the remedial action taken to fix any deficiencies. According to 29 CFR 1910.217, “if any employer retains the last two records of the inspection and maintenance performed, he has complied with the intent of the standards”.

Keep your equipment compliant using Total Equipment Training

Total Equipment Training specializes in all areas of crane inspection; mobile, overhead, rigging gear, hoists, and chain hoist. We can provide load testing which is required whenever any alteration or modification has been made or when the crane has been out of service for six months or longer.



Barb Fullman- CEO of Total Equipment Training
About the Author

As the owner of Total Equipment Training, Barb Fullman has been an active contributor to the heavy equipment training industry for over 23 years. Barb, a Penn State University graduate, is recognized as the highest ranking women-owned heavy equipment training business in the US. As a leading authority and provider of heavy equipment training, training manuals and tests based on OSHA Standards and Regulations, Total Equipment Trainings’ client list is composed of most of the Fortune 1000 companies focusing on energy, construction, heavy highway, and manufacturing.

Barb’s motto is “Stay safe, stay up to date”. She is committed to up-to-date & technically correct training, whether it is via in-person or through our library of online heavy equipment resources. With over 50 OSHA qualifying training topics to choose from with TET, the most popular heavy equipment training subjects are mobile cranes, NCCCO, all “dirt equipment”, rigging, crane inspections, and train-the-trainer.