The collapse of a construction crane in the city of Mecca that caused over a 100 deaths and hundred of other injuries highlights just how critical it is to pay attention to safety when you have a crane on site. All it takes is one overturned crane at the wrong moment to lead to massive injuries or death. If you're planning on renting a crane for a specific period of construction, keep the following things in mind.

1.) Hire an operator with NCCCO certification.

There are plenty of operators available for cranes, but not all of them have certification through the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO). While an operator who has learned the ropes through years on the job may be perfectly qualified, you have no way of knowing for sure exactly what training he or she has really had. The NCCCO routinely audits exam sites to make sure that operators with certification are all held to the same high standards.

2.) Routinely observe your operators.

You can't rely on certification alone to make sure that your operator is handling the crane safely–personal observation is also important. Improper movements can lead to mental fatigue and foundation shifts that can put everyone in danger. Ideally, crane operation should be smooth and steady. Fast swings, abrupt stops, and jerking motions can put the crane and bystanders in danger. 

3.) Never operate during adverse weather conditions.

The crane in Mecca came down during particularly windy weather. That should serve as a reminder that you want your crane operator to be able to effectively curtail activity whenever the weather indicates a need for caution. All the training in the world won't prevent a weather-related problem if the operator isn't empowered to call a halt to operations when necessary.

4.) Check maintenance records regularly.

To maintain a safe construction site, you need to review the maintenance records of any equipment before it is brought on site. Make sure that the crane has had regular preventative care, including brake testing and resistance testing on all wires. Keep in mind that 12% of fatal crane accidents involve a failure of the boom or cable, making that an important area of concern. Ideally, the rental company should also maintain the equipment and provide for periodic inspections even after the equipment is at your location. You can't expect your regular crew to have the necessary knowledge to recognize defects with equipment that they don't regularly use.