Overhead Crane Inspections: How, When and Why?

In 1989, a construction crane collapsed in San Francisco’s financial district, causing five fatalities and 19 injuries. Experts blame a lack of regulation.

Serious crane-related disasters are always a moment to reflect – what went wrong? More importantly, how can we prevent this from happening again?

Since 1989, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations have improved. Unfortunately, crane accidents still happen. In 2008 alone, there were 72 fatal crane-related accidents.

How can employers prevent these high-cost accidents from happening? That’s where routine overhead crane inspection comes in. Check out this guide to make sure you’re meeting your essential crane inspection requirements.

Why Inspection

Humans rely on machines to complete a seemingly endless array of tasks that society depends on. These machines are primarily reliable, but still susceptible to regular wear and tear. Human bodies can break down from extended periods of heavy use, and so can the nuts, bolts, and mechanisms of our most trusted machines.

That may seem obvious, but the federal government holds organizations accountable to that fact. That is why they uphold OSHA regulations for the regular maintenance of these machines. Cranes are also included in their ordinances.

Regular overhead crane inspection will improve the human safety conditions in your facility. It will decrease your accident liability, boost your equipment reliability, and keep you OSHA compliant as required by U.S. law.

Who Can Inspect

The Crane Manufacturers Association of America (CMAA) recommends that you have crane inspections conducted by an inspector with a minimum of 2,000 hours of experience.

The inspector should be able to demonstrate and provide proof of their experience in the practical areas of maintenance, servicing, repairing, modifying, and testing crane function. They should also be able to demonstrate and provide proof of their formal education in the field, including in-depth knowledge of the states and federal regulations.

How Often to Inspect

This is where things get a little complicated.

There are four categories of overhead crane inspection. It’s advisable to keep a schedule so you can track your compliance with these regulations.


When first purchasing new crane equipment, whether, for the first time or repair, every item must be tested.

According to OSHA, ” Prior initial use, all new and altered cranes shall be inspected to ensure compliance with the provisions of this section.”

Functional Test

OSHA also mandates that crane equipment should be visually inspected on a daily basis, before the beginning of use.

There should be a record of checks for leakage, wear and tear, maladjustment, deformation, and deterioration, usually conducted by the crane operator. The more complicated inspections can be conducted monthly.


Unlike the functional testing record, these do not need to be as meticulous. Still, they should be documented depending on the use of the equipment.

Inspect heavily used cranes daily to weekly, moderately used cranes weekly to monthly, and lightly used cranes monthly.


These inspections are much more thorough, and thus, are not as frequent. Lightly and moderately used cranes can be inspected yearly, while heavily used cranes must be inspected quarterly.

Even if a crane has not been used, it is required to have periodic testing before its next use.

Overhead Crane Inspection

If your organization does not meet OSHA’s overhead crane inspection requirements, you could be fined thousands of dollars. In case someone is injured, you won’t just lose more money, but there may even be a loss of life.

Routine crane inspections serve a very important purpose. Contact us today to see how we can help you integrate these procedures into your organization as smoothly as possible.

Posted in Crane.