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What Does a Crane Driver Do?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated Jan 30, 2024
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A crane driver typically drives the crane to and from the job site. Along with driving the crane, the crane driver is commonly the crane operator once the crane is on site. The operator is responsible for all pre-operation safety checks, as well as the setup and rigging of the crane. The crane driver is typically educated on the safe operation of the crane while en route to and from the job as well as when the crane is on the work site.

Most cranes accompany large-wheeled or tracked vehicles that are equipped with a massive boom. The tracked vehicles are typically trucked to and from the work site on a flatbed trailer, while the wheeled versions are routinely driven to and from the work site on public roads. Being large, construction-type vehicles, the crane driver usually is required to posses a valid commercial driver's license to legally operate the crane on the roads. Once the crane is on the work site, the crane driver must set up the crane for work as a stationary machine.

Often, the driver is required to attach boom sections together to gain the required boom size for the job. This is often a multiple-person task due to the sheer weight of the large, steel components. Once the boom has been assembled, the crane driver is responsible for setting the outriggers that prevent the crane from tipping as it lifts its payload. Large, hydraulic cylinders are deployed from the chassis of the vehicle and rested upon large, metal or wooden plates or blocks to aid in distributing the weight of the crane over a large area. The entire crane is commonly lifted off of the ground and is suspended on the hydraulic cylinders and the footings while in use on the job site.

With a tracked version of the crane, the driver is usually responsible for loading the large machine onto a flatbed truck trailer and then driving the truck to the job site. Once at the site, the driver unloads the crane and continues on with the same basic boom assembly, if required, and positioning the crane at the lifting spot. The tracked crane can often utilize a large counterweight to offset the weight of the boom and its payload. Once at the site, the counterweight is typically trucked to the site on a separate truck and attached to the crane by the crane driver and several assistants.

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