It’s hard to believe I have been in the same field of work my entire career, for close to thirty years I have been in the business of defying gravity. I am proud to say I am a 3rd generation Operator/Rigger and though the business has had it’s UPS AND DOWNS, it’s clear to say the business is picking up! (pun intended)

I was given a little red book by my father, when I was 17 years old and told to read it. The book was titled THE RIGGERS BIBLE and at the time was the best known publication to a career in the Crane and Rigging field. Truth be told it was quite possibly the only known curriculum in existence at the time, aside from ASME B.30 and the “OLD” OSHA standard 29CFR 1926.550

Over the last three decades I have seen many changes in the industry, from rigging manuals and books like “The Riggers Pocket Book” and “Bob’s Rigging and Crane Handbook” to todays most accepted “ITP’s Rigging Handbook”. Even the DOL/OSHA standards and regulations has seen a major overhaul since my induction into the craft 29 years ago.

Even more changes were soon to come when the  C-DAC  (Crane & Derrick Advisory Committee) was finally formed, the committee that would advise OSHA and overhaul the heretic OSHA 1926.550 standards from 1970’s to the new Sub Part CC 1926.1400…A change long overdue!

As technology advances, so must our safety standards. The DINOSAUR cranes of yesterday were built rugged and tough, to where as todays cranes are engineered to perfection. In the DINO cranes the chances were more likely to lose stability due the extreme weight of the boom itself, today’s engineered cranes have a better chance of incurring a structural integrity issue.

I am fortunate to have never had an issue with either of the two and in another decade will be able to retire, proving what I have always believed, that all Crane Accidents are preventable! If I can only share one piece of advice with all future and current Operators on how to have a incident free career as an Operator it would be RESPECT EVERY LIFT!




As a crane operator and rigger, I have done my share of inspections. The most common is the “Daily Equipment Inspection” which is done prior to commencing any work. Then you have a “Monthly Equipment Inspection” as required by most companies. Finally the “Annual Inspection” which is conducted by a third party equipment inspection company as per OSHA.

That’s just the beginning…Now all the rigging must be inspected as well then documented and kept on file.

One common overlooked inspection form is the “Inbound/Outbound” Inspection. This one is not an OSHA requirement but in my opinion it is a MUST! Often when contractors rent/lease equipment they assume the equipment will come in manufacturer condition, but this is not always the case. Most equipment is taken off rent at another jobsite, picked up and delivered to the new renter/lessor.

The employers or employees whom had previously rented the machine may not be fully competent in assembling and disassembling the components of the equipment. (By the way there is also “Assembly/Disassembly Inspections” on some jobs.) If something as simple as a wedge socket is not correctly pinned per the equipment manufacturers specifications, well the end results could be catastrophic.

I have over the last couple of years seen this several times, and it always amazes me. We need to realize that an equipment rental company employees their own mechanic. That is just what they are MECHANICS! They may not be as well trained to realize that certain components must be installed correctly, components like wire rope, wedge socket pins or even the wedge orientation.

To properly assemble and disassemble such type components a rigger/operator is by far more knowledgeable as that is what they are trained and certified to do. So it’s only sensible thinking to have your own competent persons thoroughly inspect all rentals and document the inspection with an INBOUND/OUTBOUND report before allowing the equipment to be placed in duty service.






© AP Photo/Craig Ruttle

Today a crane in New York lost it’s load, after seeing photo’s of the rigging still on the hook, I see a cardinal sin in rigging. There used to be a saying that you don’t hear anymore “The weakest link of rigging could possibly be the piece you never needed” In the photo shown in the story we see a chain fall hooked up as rigging. Chain falls are great tools but should never be on a cranes hook, as the clutch design is no intended to handle a shock load. Turn buckles are more preferred for this.

Always remember complexity hinders reliability. Keep your rigging as simple as you can as the weak link is the last link!


Now I can only speculate if this was indeed the problem as I can only see one photo but you can bet if this is part of the rigging used there is many more infractions to be found. Perhaps the engineering of the lift lug was at fault. It the piece has lift lugs and the lift lugs are not engineered correctly to match the rigging hardware there could be another problem with this as well. As shackle design varies a good rule of thumb is to fill 80% of the shackles pin. Years ago a lift lug would be pad-eyed, this helping displace the psi on the pins bearing surface.

no pad padeye-flat

Review my blog titled PAD-EYE RIGGER as I touched base more on pad-eye designs.

As I said it’s all to early to speculate on the cause, but brings up great topics for discussion.

Remember if it isn’t safe don’t do it!

Pulling on a cigar after rigging up a World record lift!

Pulling on a cigar after rigging up a World record lift!

“COLOR CODE” By: Kelley Osburn

As we approach June 1st, I want to take a moment to remind all my Crane & Rigging friends on the Gulf Coast that Monday is the first day of HURRICANE SEASON! We have been pretty lucky the last couple of years in Texas but let us not forget we are subject to have one at any time.  It’s also time for color coding of all your rigging!

I have spent many years inspecting rigging and applying tags to my rigging. As most of us know the monthly tags usually doesn’t make a week on chokers in regular use. In my search for the best tag to apply to my endless poly slings, one durable, tough and that would not damage my rigging. I found the Certags website and asked them to send me a sample packet.

Finally a tag that can hold up through all types of weather, even hurricanes!

I was impressed with several of the tags they had to offer. The quality is unmatched and the Certag staff were diligent in satisfying all my needs, by addressing all my questions and concerns. Take a look below at the sample packet I received!


Tags made rigorous enough for my rigging!

Give Chris a call at Certags and I promise you won’t be sorry! I have included a link to their free sample page so you too can check out the quality and ruggedness of some fine products!


Remember, if it isn’t safe don’t do it!

Kelley Osburn

Kelley Osburn




A friend contacted me today with a question about CFR standards that pertain to lightning and cranes. He was on a job and chose to shut down crane operations after hearing thunder. He felt the client (company) was unhappy about his choice. My friend feared if he could not find it in safety procedure or in regulatory standards it could result in him losing his job. In efforts to help my friend I began researching for the standard number.

I was shocked (no pun intended) to discover there is no standard for such. I searched several other agencies standards and discover they don’t have a standard either, pertaining to crane operation in electrical storms. This is a serious oversight on OSHA’s  behalf and should be addressed immediately. Until then always use “The General Duty Clause” and “Stop Work” action that most General Contractors allow their employees.

It is our duty to protect the ignorant, so I applaud my friend Brandon’s decision! Hence another reason Texas needs to implement a State license, as to govern such unethical business practices. In my opinion not a single life if worth meeting a deadline!

Kelley Osburn

PS: If I overlooked a standard please do share, so I can do the same.


Why?  One may ask do I stand firmly against allowing unsafe acts, and why can’t I just be a “Good Ol’ Boy” I will attempt to answer the WHY question for those of you who see this as a poor attribute and hopefully I can change some perceptions. Why?  Well to put it simply enough; ” I personally don’t believe one life is worth losing for monetary gain, if it can be prevented.” and to ask me to do a job that could potentially hurt another, is like asking me to put a price tag on heads of my co-workers and that I cannot do!

In the modern day construction industry, billions of dollars are spent every year in PPE’s, safety training and countless more risk preventative measures such as product design and testing. All in an effort to protect employee’s well-being and to protect a corporation’s financial investor’s monetary stake. Gone are the days of tallying up and adding the cost of fatalities to the bid. Conditional insurance policies, risk management and mitigation contracts are the controllers of today’s construction companies and the only way to represent success. In laymen terms, if you have too many recordable incidents your safety rating drops and your insurance becomes un-affordable! Hence the necessity for Goal Zero, TSTI’s, STA’s and other such safety related programs!

My belief is  not hard to conform too, and to not conform in my opinion is a display of poor behavioral safety. I believe “All accidents are preventable” just as I outlined in a report I published in 2013 on my SAFELIFT USA (WordPress) page titled “THREE REASONS WHY” . In my report I attempted to outline the three basic common denominators in all incident, accident safety reports. As my article explains HUMAN ERROR, MECHANICAL FAILURES and ACT OF NATURE are the three common denominators and reasons for all accidents, from there I methodically micro-analyze each into subcategories.  For example HUMAN ERROR has many subcategories such as Lack of Training, Complacency and Poor Leadership.

Let me use an analogy for you; a child lashes out in a store at his mother for candy at the register, it is naïve to blame the child for his behavior for he is only a child. Perhaps his parents are more so to blame for his rearing. The environment that children are raised in sets off such types of poor behavior, and this unbecoming attribute has been proven to be a result of the lifestyle and culture the child is raised around and in.  Change the culture you can change the behavior. This is the manner in which we make a difference in work related incidents!

I hope this answers the WHY (?) question.

I am reminded of a childhood fable of the frog and scorpion. A scorpion asks a frog to carry him over a river.  Afraid of being stung the frog denies, the scorpion in turn argues that if he were to sting the frog, both would surely drown. The frog ponders the ideal then agrees, but midway across the river the scorpion does indeed sting the frog, dooming them both. When asked why, the scorpion points out to the frog that this is simply it’s nature.

I suppose I am much like the scorpion, as I have lost many jobs for refusing to do unsafe acts. It’s just my nature to foster a good safety culture and I am certain I will loose more jobs down the road. To all you frogs who I have offended bare in mind it is just what I do.

Remember: If it isn’t SAFE don’t do it!

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“PAD-EYE RIGGER” By: Kelley Osburn

In my early years of rigging I recall hearing one of my rigging mentors say “He’s just a Pad-Eye Rigger“.  I asked him what he meant and it was explained by the old-timer. “Well some of these boys in the field that call themselves Riggers however they depend heavily on a load being engineered to lift with lifting lugs and pad-eyes already attached.”  So essentially a “Pad-Eye Rigger” is a rigger who is incapable of determining the center of gravity of a load and his entire career is based on simply putting a shackle on a pad-eye and attaching a tag-line for load control.

Here is another common trait of a “Pad-Eye Rigger”. He’s the guy who hooks up the load and then has the operator hoist up the load (not all the way mind you) just enough to determine if he is correct.  Then ultimately instructing the operator to cable back down and begin performing the Pad-Eye Riggers Ritual Sling Dance. The ritual sling dance is the repeated moving of the sling two inches left or right and to hoist up again.  A good operator will usually allow a “Pad-Eye Rigger” to use one hand to motion the raising the load signal, as we understand he must use the other hand to keep his fingers crossed.

Seriously though we are not always given the luxury of up and down (again and again) on a load, at times we may find ourselves in a tight spot. The safety of every lift depends on a rigger being professionally trained and capable of determining the C/G (center of gravity) on the first pick. At times there’s simply not enough room for a “Pad-Eye Riggers” process of elimination approach when rigging.

The formulas and basic common material weights are available and should be used more often. Most high school students knows simple trigonometry and the rules for formulas. So why are there so many skilled craftsman lacking this knowledge? Well I think for the most part it boils down to a simple fact, the formulas have never been taught. All you guys/gals reading this I hope this helps, the formula for finding a loads rig up points to and  location of the loads C/G is:  Force (multiplied by) Distance equals Moment of Force.

Let me say this before finishing up; Rigging is a two part process, 50% science and 50% experience. Just recently I took an Advanced Rigging Test for the NCCER (National Construction Center for Education and Research) and scored a 100 on the test. The following week a Buddy (JAM UP RIGGER) A.J. Alfaro asked me a very good question. He asked in my opinion how is the best way to remove web rigging from a cubic measure of marble. The marble must ultimately sit flat on a another piece and weights 30 tons. My answer was wooden dowels. He explained that he was faced with this problem and used ice blocks.  INGENUISE!

So we must see that rigging is a two part process and just as A.J. reinforced (a belief I live by) “Once you think you know it all, guess again”.  Thanks A.J. for the knowledge and please remember to share that info. Oh and by the way my description of a “JAM UP RIGGER” well he is  the complete opposite of a “Pad Eye Rigger”

I hope y’all got some giggles out of the post and I’m sorry this has been so long over due been having grand-kids and loving on them as much as I can. I will be writing a special blog in coming days on the math of rigging, as to help many of my friends get ready for their Advanced Rigging Test, so be sure to check back with SAFE LIFT USA!


“If it’s not safe, don’t do it”


Pulling on a cigar after rigging up a World record lift!

Pulling on a cigar after rigging up a World record lift!


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