Outriggers are the key to stability and must always be used. “By regulation, the outriggers must be deployed for maximum stability and to avoid any unnecessary stress to the carrier, truck body and components,” says Eggers. “Should any situation require a lift without outriggers deployed properly, the manufacturer, an engineer with specific knowledge of cranes or other expert in cranes and rigging should be consulted.”
Whether the stabilizers need to be fully deployed depends upon manufacturer recommendations and the load. “If a stability chart has a section that shows stability for your vehicle with stabilizers partially deployed, then it would be permissible,” says Davison. “If the manufacturer’s stability chart only shows stabilizers fully deployed, then stabilizers should be fully deployed for all lifts.”
Stay in control
Once it’s time to perform the lift, make sure the crane operator has a clear view of the work area. “Crane operators should never perform a lift when they cannot see their load,” says Worman.
“If the load is not in the direct line of sight of the operator, the operator should relocate the truck/crane or his/her own location,” says Eggers. “The wireless remote control allows full mobility to and around the load. If conditions prohibit that, the operator should employ a [trained] signal person that can be in direct line of sight of the load.”
The operator must also be able to control the load. “All Maintainer cranes come with a fully proportional remote control,” says Eggers. “This feature allows the operator to slowly ‘feather’ the load accurately into place. Additionally, the overall speed of the functions can be adjusted directly on the remote control in increments of 100%, 75%, 50% and 25%, allowing the operator more finite proportional control. Extreme caution should be used to prevent any chance of body parts being crushed, sudden shifts of the load, etc.”
Pay attention at all times, especially when performing lifts that require precise placement. “Always try to keep appendages from getting between the load and another surface,” says Mike Lawson, crane engineering manager, AutoCrane. “Take slow movements with the crane — proportional cranes are better for this type of application. And keep a close watch on the load and surroundings at all times.”
“When precisely positioning a load such as an engine or transmission, operators should keep their load as low to the ground as possible and perform all crane and load movements slowly and smoothly,” says Worman.
Davison concurs, noting, “This results in the least chance of damage to person or material should something go wrong.”
Consider all variables
Analyze the ground beneath the truck to ensure it is flat and provides the best foundation to make a lift. “When ground conditions are less than ideal, operating capability can potentially be achieved by reducing the load or using stabilizer pads to increase the footprint of the stabilizer foot,” says Worman.
Lawson adds, “Use outrigger pads to distribute the load on soft ground or blocks if the ground is not level.”
Cribbing is another option. “Cribbing must be added to distribute the weight of the outriggers,” explains Eggers. “If the truck sinks, tilts or shifts, the lift should be aborted until solid footing can be obtained. If there is any doubt of the ground conditions, an expert in rigging or a site surveyor should be utilized.”
Wind can also impact stability during a lift. “Wind does play a small factor in any lift,” says Eggers. “Excessive wind may require an operator to reduce total capacity, utilize more tag lines to control the load and/or restrict the operator from lifting the load far from the ground.”
Worman cautions, “Field service technicians should not operate the mechanics truck crane in excessive wind speeds. If windy conditions are present, it is important to allow additional clearance for potential boom, load line and load swaying.”
Certain loads are more susceptible to the effects of wind, particularly light, large loads. “Tethering the load will help with the handling,” says Lawson. “However, if the wind is too strong for safe handling, AutoCrane recommends delaying the lift until more stable conditions exist.”