There is estimated to be just over 250,000 crane and tower operators in the US. This job is not for the faint of heart, as these workers face daily occupational dangers including the risks of electrocution from equipment failure or power lines that may be too close (less than 10 feet away), falling from the crane, as well as the injury from a crane that overturns. However, with proper training and observation of safety precautions, those dangers are less likely to become reality. What is more likely to happen are health related problems associated with the long hours of sitting and the intense exposure to vibrations and noise over extended periods of time.
If you are a crane operator, here are a few ways you can minimize your risks and maintain your health on the job.
Shake, shake, shake
Crane operators sometimes sit at their posts for up to 16 hours for the day without breaks. The operation of the crane comes with a lot of vibrations which can result in musculoskeletal problems including a condition called whole-body vibration numbness. These problems occur due to the effect of the vibrations on the muscles, joints, circulation and nerves in the body and can be transmitted through the arms (operating the equipment), the buttocks (from the vibrating seat) or the feet (on the vibrating floor of the crane).
Although there are regulations surrounding the amount of vibration that a crane operator should be subjected to, it cannot always be avoided. Ways to minimize the effects include checking the seat regularly to ensure that it is well sprung for adequate support. Rubber mats can also be placed on the floor and the operator should wear thick rubber boots to reduce vibrations in the feet.
Movement in store
Sitting for extended periods of time can result circulation problems in the legs and back. It is also thought to increase the risks of cardiovascular and other chronic diseases and lowering life expectancy. It is estimated that even if you exercise for an hour per day, it cannot reverse the risks from sitting for six full hours. This, of course, is a statistic that could be of concern to crane operators who sometimes sit for two to three times that length in a given shift.
To combat this, it is recommended that you indulge in ten minutes of intermittent movement for every one hour that you spend sitting. This might be difficult to do considering the cramped conditions and the height at which crane operators work, but it can be done. Stretching and dancing around in your cab might just be the solution for you. Of course, this would have to be during those periods when you are not lifting or swinging heavy loads.
Contact a company like American Equipment Inc for more tips about operating cranes.
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