How to Create a Critical Lift Plan

Today we’ll get into the details of how to create a critical lift plan. OSHA defines a critical lift as any lift that (1) exceeds 75% of a crane’s rated capacity; (2) utilizes more than one crane; and (3) is lifting personnel. Some companies also have internal parameters in place to dictate what qualifies as a critical lift. For example, a smaller company picking a valuable load might consider that lift to be critical, and the personnel making the lift may treat it as such.

What goes into the proper planning of these lifts, though? We’ll give you these answers to help guide your team on how to create a critical lift plan. Lifts that are appropriately planned are executed properly more often than not, and this planning can help ensure that everyone on site is sent home to their families after they’ve put in a day’s work.

Critical Lift Plan Preparation

Considering the Site

Take a look at the area where the critical lift will take place. How are the ground conditions? Has it rained recently? What’s the weather prediction for the day of the lift? And there’s more than just weather to account for when making critical lifts — most importantly, what is the ground bearing pressure where the crane will be set up? The bearing pressure of the ground will play a role in the type of crane that’s used for a critical lift, how much matting is required, and the amount of weight that can safely be lifted.

Ensure Proper Equipment Is on Site

Let’s assume it’s the day of the lift. Equipment that you need to have on site for a critical lift can vary, but these are the items you’ll most likely need to make the lift:

  • Crane(s) with the capacity to make the lift
  • Correct matting
  • Sufficient rigging equipment
  • All required personnel
  • An anemometer (a wind gauge that will monitor the wind before and during the lift)
  • Correct paperwork on site to complete critical lift plans
  • Documentation for verifying load weight on site.

Proper Crane Setup

Proper crane setup is crucial if you’re looking to make safe lifts — not just a critical lift, but any lift. Things to consider when you’re setting up your crane for a critical lift include:

  • Can the crane access the lift site?
  • Is the crane capable of achieving a sufficient setup radius, boom length, and boom angle?
  • Has the wire rope been reeved to be greater than the crane(s) capacity?
  • Are there obstacles that the lift will need to navigate?
  • Has the crane been properly inspected?
  • Is all necessary rigging equipment on site?

Taking the time to make sure your crane is properly setup is crucial to completing lifts and ensuring the entire crew stays safe.

Ensure the Correct Personnel Are on Site

At the ideal workplace, each individual is accountable for a specific job they have mastered. You don’t want your personnel to wear multiple hats when making critical lifts, and that’s why it’s important to have the correct personnel on site for these lifts. This will typically include some variation of the following:

Once the personnel are accounted for, it’s time to take the next steps toward making your lift. Be sure that all personnel have had the opportunity to review the critical lift plan. Then, complete a critical lift worksheet and ensure all parties are in agreement about the information in the worksheet. Now you’re ready to make a critical lift with your necessary personnel.

We’ll be back soon with details about the process of making a critical lift. In the meantime, don’t forget to check out our most recent blog on How to Get Crane Operator Certification. If you’re an individual looking to prepare for NCCCO certification exams, you can find more information here. If you’re a business looking to have your staff trained for certification exams, need other forms of safety training, have more questions on how to build a critical lift plan, or you’re looking for the help of a Certified Lift Director — get in touch with us here.


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