Guide For Visual Inspection of Tower Cranes To Ensure Safety

Visual inspection of tower cranes is a critical part of ensuring their safety and functionality.

Visual inspection is a technique for detecting defects using the naked eye to ensure equipment is working properly or there is no physical defect.

Visual inspection is one of the oldest and most straightforward methods of inspection. As a result, it is still widely used in the manufacturing, energy, and medical industries, as it has demonstrated its effectiveness in the detection of surface-level deficiencies.

Why Should I Carry Out Visual Inspection on Tower Cranes

Visual inspections on tower cranes is crucial for ensuring the safety and functionality of these heavy construction machines. At this point I will highlight some important reasons why you should conduct regular visual inspections on tower cranes:

1. Regular visual inspections help identify potential hazards, damage, or wear and tear that could compromise the crane’s structural integrity, this helps reduces the risk of accidents and injuries on the construction site.

2. Regular inspections help ensure compliance with these regulations and can help you avoid legal issues or fines for non-compliance.

3. Visual inspections can detect early signs of mechanical or structural issues, allowing you to address problems before they escalate. This will save you money by reducing the need for costly repairs and downtime.

READ: What is Safe Working Load (SWL)

4. Regular inspections and maintenance can extend the lifespan of your tower crane, saving you money in the long run.

5. A well-maintained crane is more likely to operate efficiently and reliably, which can increase overall productivity on the construction site.

6. Identifying and addressing potential issues through visual inspections can help mitigate risks associated with crane operation. This includes reducing the risk of accidents, structural failures, and damage to other property on the construction site.

7. Regular inspections can instill confidence in crane operators, knowing that they are working with a safe and well-maintained machine, resulting to better job performance and safer operation.

8. It helps maintain good reputation. Maintaining a strong safety record and reputation for responsible crane operation can be a competitive advantage in the construction industry.

Note: It is important to note that while visual inspections are crucial, they should be part of a comprehensive maintenance and safety program that includes regular testing and examination of critical components and systems. Additionally, inspections should be conducted by qualified individuals with the knowledge and experience to assess tower crane safety effectively.

Requirements For Tower Cranes Inspection

OSHA has stated some requirements for tower crane inspection, we will mention some here and link back to the rest;


Erecting, climbing and dismantling.


Section 1926.1403 (Assembly/Disassembly–selection of manufacturer or employer procedures), § 1926.1404 (Assembly/Disassembly–general requirements (applies to all assembly and disassembly operations)), § 1926.1405 (Disassembly–additional requirements for dismantling of booms and jibs (applies to both the use of manufacturer procedures and employer procedures)), and § 1926.1406 (Assembly/Disassembly–employer procedures–general requirements), apply to tower cranes (except as otherwise specified), except that the term “assembly/disassembly” is replaced by “erecting, climbing and dismantling,” and the term “disassembly” is replaced by “dismantling.”


Dangerous areas (self-erecting tower cranes). In addition to the requirements in § 1926.1404(e), for self-erecting tower cranes, the following applies: Employees must not be in or under the tower, jib, or rotating portion of the crane during erecting, climbing and dismantling operations until the crane is secured in a locked position and the competent person in charge indicates it is safe to enter this area, unless the manufacturer’s instructions direct otherwise and only the necessary personnel are permitted in this area.


Foundations and structural supports. Tower crane foundations and structural supports (including both the portions of the structure used for support and the means of attachment) must be designed by the manufacturer or a registered professional engineer.


Addressing specific hazards. The requirements in § 1926.1404(h)(1) through (9) apply. In addition, the A/D director must address the following:


Foundations and structural supports. The A/D director must determine that tower crane foundations and structural supports are installed in accordance with their design.


Loss of backward stability. Backward stability before swinging self erecting cranes or cranes on traveling or static undercarriages.


Wind speed. Wind must not exceed the speed recommended by the manufacturer or, where manufacturer does not specify this information, the speed determined by a qualified person.

Guide For Visual Inspection of Tower Cranes

Here are some key aspects to consider when conducting a visual inspection of a tower crane:

1. Foundation and Anchorage: Check the stability of the crane’s foundation and anchor points. Look for any signs of settling or movement.

2. Structure: Examine the crane’s structure for any signs of damage, corrosion, or fatigue, especially in key load-bearing components like the tower, jib, and counterweights.

3. Wire Ropes and Cables: Inspect all wire ropes and cables for wear, fraying, kinking, or other damage. Ensure proper winding on drums and that the ropes are adequately lubricated.

4. Pulleys and Sheaves: Examine pulleys and sheaves for wear and proper alignment to prevent rope damage.

5. Electrical System: Check the crane’s electrical components, including wiring, connectors, and control systems, for any signs of wear, damage, or malfunctions.

6. Safety Devices: Verify that safety devices such as limit switches, load indicators, and anti-collision systems are working correctly.

READ: What is Rigging – 21 Duties of a Rigger

7. Operator’s Cab: Inspect the operator’s cab for cleanliness, functionality of controls, and clear visibility.

8. Brakes and Drives: Check the braking and drive systems for proper operation and signs of wear or damage.

9. Lifting Attachments: Inspect hooks, slings, and any lifting attachments for wear, deformation, or damage.

10. Lubrication: Ensure that all moving parts are adequately lubricated to prevent friction and wear.

11. Safety Labels and Markings: Verify that all safety labels and markings are legible and in their correct positions.

12. Weather Conditions: Consider the impact of weather conditions on the crane’s components, such as ice buildup or wind loads.

13. Documentation: Review maintenance and inspection records to ensure that regular inspections and maintenance have been carried out as scheduled.

READ: 11 Important Crane Safety Tips

It’s essential to conduct these visual inspections regularly, ideally as part of a comprehensive crane inspection and maintenance program. Any issues or concerns identified during the inspection should be promptly addressed, and the crane should not be used until it is deemed safe for operation. Always follow manufacturer guidelines and relevant safety regulations when performing inspections on tower cranes.