ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Windy days can halt crane operations and construction projects.

“It’s strange, but as a crane operator, you get to know the wind really well,” Matt Helms, operations manager with Maxim Crane Works L.P., said. “It creates hazards and dangers for us but at the same time it affects all the operations of the crane,”

Helms pays close attention to the daily weather forecast to ensure safe operations for his employees at Maxim Crane Works.

“So even on a day where most people wouldn’t notice the wind, the guys and gals that are sitting up inside these tower cranes that are 200, 300 feet in the air, they’re feeling the effects of the wind that day,” he said.

Crane limitations are set by the manufacturer. The load of the crane is also impacted by the surface area that captures the wind.

“There’s many different types and many different configurations and the wind has a different effect on each type,” Helms said. “It’s a whole lot easier to set a very heavy metal cube object on top of a roof today than it would be to set a single sheet of plywood.”

Helms says their cranes are equipped with a lot of technology now.

“We have anemometers which actually indicate a wind speed so the operators have access to that in the cab. If it’s not equipped with it, we have after-market ones that we put on,” he said. “But that information that used to not be talked about on the job site or asked about ahead of time, now is in discussions on a daily basis as we plan and perform the work.”

And ultimately, the windy weather can completely shut down operations for the day.

“There are times whenever we have a customer that’s upset because they wish to continue working and we have to shut down,” Helms said. “Our operators carry a certain certification. They have to have that in order to operate the crane, per federal law. And if they make a bad choice, and they have an accident or an incident, that’s something that can cost them that certification and their livelihood.”