Mechanics truck operators have a lot on their plate when a new workday begins. Between conducting their pre-trip vehicle inspection and focusing on the full schedule ahead, operators can sometimes overlook the need to thoroughly inspect the crane mounted on their service body.

Daily crane inspection may not be foremost in an operator’s mind, but it is a critical practice. Truck-mounted cranes provide the lift and reach capabilities required by a variety of public works applications, and proper maintenance is a big part of keeping them safe and productive. Many crane maintenance and repair needs can be identified during daily inspection and corrected inexpensively — long before they cause safety issues, extended equipment downtime and costly failure.

Diligent inspection of the crane can help ensure safe operation, maximize uptime and manage repair costs. Following are daily crane, wire rope and hook inspection recommendations from one manufacturer of service trucks and truck-mounted cranes, Iowa Mold Tooling Co. Inc. (IMT). Operators and service technicians should carefully follow manuals and applicable regulations for their specific crane when operating, inspecting and maintaining the equipment.


Daily crane inspections should be conducted by a “competent person” — defined as someone who is capable of identifying hazards and having the authority to take prompt corrective action to eliminate them. The same inspection recommendations apply to both telescopic cranes integrated with a mechanics truck body and truck-mounted articulating cranes used for material handling.

Inspections that should be performed daily include:
•    All load charts, safety and warning labels and control labels for presence and legibility

•    All safety devices for proper operation

•    Control mechanisms for leaks, cracks and proper operation of all functions

•    Hydraulic system (hoses, tubes, fittings) for leakage and proper oil level

•    Crane hook’s safety latches and proper operation

•    Condition of wire rope

•    Connecting pins and pin retaining devices for proper engagement

•    Overall crane for damaged or missing parts, cracked welds and presence of safety covers; crane should be observed during  operation for abnormal performance

•    Lights and alarms for proper operation

•    Remote control devices for proper operation

•    Anti-two-block device for proper operation

•    Electrical apparatus for malfunctioning; signs of apparent excessive deterioration, dirt or moisture accumulation

The cost of overlooking daily inspection items can be significant in terms of safety, uptime and dollars. For example, a missing pin retainer bolt — which may cost less than $1 to replace — could cause a dropped load, resulting in expensive crane and property damage. If not repaired, cracked welds could propagate to a point that the boom would need to be replaced. A blown hydraulic hose could result in an oil spill.