Understanding What is a Suspended Load on a Crane

By Robert Romboa •  Updated: 05/26/22 •  6 min read

As an employer or manager, it is your policy to provide a safe working environment for your employees.

Your responsibility is to ensure that your employees follow the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) suspended load safety standards when operating or performing duties around cranes and hoists.

On many worksites, it is inevitable to be working in an area under which there are suspended loads. 

Have you ever wondered what suspended loads are and whether you can work underneath? Search no further, as this article is exclusively a treat for you!

Here is the short answer! A suspended load is an object lifted and hung above the ground for a short period…..and No! It is dangerous to work or walk underneath a suspended load. 

This article provides everything you need to know regarding the subject. So keep reading to learn more.

what is a suspended load on a crane

What are suspended loads, and can you work underneath a suspended load?

Falling materials from any equipment that carries a load above ground level (using wheel loaders, forklifts, cranes, etc.) can pose significant risks, such as crushing weight and asphyxiation from being trapped beneath a dropped object, head injuries, and projectiles from contact. 

What are suspended loads on a crane? A crane is a machine used to lift, lower, and move a load horizontally, with the hoisting mechanism built within the device Loads like these can be seen on riggings, slings, pallets, and other pieces of equipment.

The larger the weight and size of the material lifted, the more dangerous the work and its surroundings become.

What are the dangers of working under a suspended load?

The most obvious risk is that what goes up must eventually come down, and not always in the way we expect. It’s not always the case that the material being lifted or transported will smash into a boom. Even a minor overhead burden can be deadly.

When a load falls, it can easily break and divide, resulting in a swarm of dangerous and lethal projectiles. Splashes, flooding, shattered bones, eye, head, and soft tissue injuries are possible. 

Also, contact with power lines is possible, resulting in life-threatening electrical shock.

How do you work under suspended loads?

Many factors must be considered while assuring safe load handling, including the load size, weight, shape, and rigging. 

The equipment operator is in charge of selecting and operating the equipment safely and acceptably. The operator should communicate with personnel on the ground before lifting the weight.

From lift-off to landing, the operator should watch the load. It’s crucial to be aware of a suspended weight’s stability and course of movement or swing and the “fall zone,” or the region where the suspended load may fall.

Only trained personnel and a spotter should be authorized in the work area; barriers should be blocked off to keep other personnel from the fall zone.

Employees should not be allowed within a ten-foot radius of a hanging load if the load falls or the apparatus tips over. 

The cargo should never be lifted higher than it has to be or left hanging in mid-air. The size of the fall zone grows as the load is raised higher, permitting someone to wander close or work beneath the hanging weight.

Is it advisable to Suspend equipment from a crane overnight?

Suspending working equipment (such as slings, spreader bars, ladders, and welding machines) is permitted.

The equipment’s weight is insignificant compared to the crane’s lifting capability, and the equipment is suspended over an area other than an entry or exit.

In all other instances, the crane operator must remain in the control until all of the following conditions are met:

Tips for managing suspended loads to minimize accidents   

Many mishaps involve males who work or stroll under crane booms and buckets, and when they happen, they are sometimes fatal.

Even if the crane is in outstanding condition and driven by a first-rate operator, it is never appropriate for personnel to be exposed needlessly.

Frequently, the casualty is a laborer doing an assigned duty with nothing to do with the crane. The regulation is simple: “Don’t stand, stroll, or operate under crane booms, buckets, or hanging cargo.”

Prior planning of crane operations usually considers the area to be covered by the swing of the boom. Cranes should be positioned such that the boom or bucket cannot be swung over employees.

Otherwise, the opera­tion should be scheduled during periods when people are free of the swing area.

The swing area should be blocked in a crowded work setting. Signs should be erected to keep unauthorized individuals out of dangerous places.

It may be essential to station a guard or traffic controller in severe instances. In concreting operations, it is especially vital to keep all humans away from the region of the bucket journey.

A lump of semi-hardened concrete often drops from a bucket and can create a significant injury even if the victim is wearing a hard helmet.

Employees should stand clear when the crane operator is landing the bucket and during the take-away.

Who can be under a suspended load?

No employee must be directly beneath the burden. Only staff necessary for the activity are authorized in the fall zone (but not directly under the load).

When an employee is vital to the operation, he is executing one of the following operations, and the employer can establish it is infeasible for the employee to undertake that activity from beyond the fall zone:


To conclude, employees may only be in the fall zone when a suspended load is not moving.

They are hooking, unhooking, guiding the load, performing the initial load attached to a component or structure, or operating a concrete bucket. Otherwise, stay away and stay safe. 

Thanks for reading to the end. We hope you learned!

Robert Romboa

Just amazed daily by the heavy machinery used to make our days easier and allow for fast and simple construction from your backyard to a city!