How To Choose the Right Crane Outrigger Pads

Crane matts

A simple Google search for “crane failure” will turn up about 23,700,000 results. If you can stomach it, do a Google Image search for “crane outrigger failure.” You’ll see hundreds of photos of many crane operators’ worst nightmare, and sadly, such construction accidents happens all the time.

Too often, whenever you hear about a crane failure, it’s because crane outrigger pads have failed. This can happen for a wide variety of reasons, including machine error, human error, the wrong type of crane pads, or poor ground conditions. This article will primarily focus on one of these causes — using the wrong crane outrigger pads.

Obviously, safety is paramount on any construction site. Both morally and legally, providing a safe work space is absolutely crucial. Unfortunately, cranes can be a particularly dangerous piece of machinery. According to the latest statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were an average of 82 crane-related fatalities between 1997 and 2006. What’s more, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that crane “upsets” occur at a rate of one upset for every 10,000 hours of use.

Human error certainly plays a factor in many crane failures. For instance, mobile cranes are more likely to tip over while they’re being operated, especially if they’ve been overloaded. Human error can also play a role in selecting the wrong outrigger crane pads.

When choosing which size crane pad to use, you must always consider ground conditions, size of the outrigger foot, and the outrigger load of the equipment. And according to OSHA, you should only operate cranes on ground that is firm, drained, and sufficiently graded. Just as importantly, you must use all the proper supporting equipment to ensure proper distribution and levelness, such as blocking, cribbing, crane mats, and outrigger pads.

There are three main types of material used in outrigger pads. Wood pads are the cheapest and easiest to assemble on your own, while steel provides a sturdier alternative. But increasingly construction workers are choosing crane outrigger pads made from a thermoplastic material. These materials are generally up to seven times lighter than metal alternatives, which makes them much easier to move and place on the job.

No matter which material you use, picking the wrong pads could put everyone in the vicinity at risk. And then there will be 23,700,001 search results.

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