Cranes are one of the most efficient movers in the industrial sector. They are plant items used to raise or lower loads in tough environments, moving objects horizontally with ease. Often paired with high-quality lashing systems or lifting cages, cranes are ideal pieces of equipment for your heavy load transport needs.
Even though they are effective carriers, cranes can pose risks to workers' safety. According to a report by Safe Work Australia, they receive around 240 reports of serious crane-related injuries each year. Common causes of injuries were colliding with moving cranes, muscular stress from operating the machine, falling from heights and being trapped between moving or stationary parts of the equipment.
Founded in 2002, the CraneSafe assessment program was designed to do annual assessments on cranes used in various workplaces to minimise accidents while using cranes. The program provides you with a:
- single method by which crane designers, manufacturers, suppliers, importers, owners and operators may fulfil their relevant safety obligations under the State Occupational Health and Safety Acts (OH&S)
- uniform and industry-wide assessment system for cranes
- process of third-party assessment of the safety compliance of their cranes
Your compliance with the assessment program ensures you proceed with operations in accordance with the law while creating a safe working environment for your employees.
Risk Management for Cranes
Safe Work Australia developed a checklist that serves as a safety guide for using and operating cranes in the workplace:
The first thing you should do is find out what could potentially cause harm in the workplace. Observe your facility and how cranes interact with or negotiate fixed structures, pedestrians or other equipment. Talk to your crane operators and ask them about the issues they encounter when dealing with cranes. Review any previous incident reports on accidents or faulty equipment.
People who work with or near cranes are most at risk. Conducting professional risk assessments could prevent injuries from falling objects, crane collapse or equipment-to-structure collisions. This also tells you which issue needs to be resolved immediately and how urgently action needs to be taken.
Every business should implement control measures that are suitable for its work environment. From getting rid of damaged mesh cages to clearing out a restricted field of vision in certain areas, taking action controls and reduces safety risks for your people.
Check your control measures
Once you’ve implemented risk management measures, review them regularly to make sure they remain effective.
High Winds and Power Lines: Conditions that Require Extra Precaution
Strong winds and overhead power lines are two of the most common causes of accidents and fatalities related to cranes use. Extra precautions have to be taken when working in environments with these hazards present.
Operating a crane on windy days
Operating a crane on a windy day runs the risk of the wind’s speed exceeding your crane’s wind rating. High winds can blow a crane’s load off balance which can cause the crate to tip over or cause the load to swing around and damage nearby properties or injure people. The following are measures foremen and crane operators need to take to avoid property damage, injuries and fatalities:
1. Double check your crane’s wind speed ratings.
Mobile cranes are usually designed to withstand 50kph winds (31mph), tower cranes can work with up to 72.4kph winds (45 mph) while container and secured dock cranes can withstand 103 kph winds (64 mph). Prior to purchasing or hiring a crane, make sure to determine a unit’s wind rating and the usual wind speed on your construction site/s.
2. Continuously track wind speeds.
Check on a daily basis local weather reports and wind speeds before operating a crane. On days where high winds are expected, pay special attention to wind speeds throughout the day and be prepared to put tasks on hold. Whether hiring or using your own crane, make sure the unit is equipped with an anemometer.
The anemometer should be placed where the crane operator can easily see and read it. The foreman should keep an eye on wind speeds as well. If wind speed reaches unsafe levels, the crane operator and foreman have to work together to stop work immediately, unload the crane and lower the boom.
Also, remember to bring down the boom at the end of each workday to protect it from winds even when it’s not in operation.
Operating a crane near overhead power lines
Working near overhead power lines should start with a thorough hazard assessment. If the assessment reveals that the crane might get closer than a trigger distance, requirements for additional precaution is triggered.
De-energising and visibly grounding the power lines are the most straightforward ways to ensure worker safety. This must be coordinated with the utility company or owner of the line and may take several weeks for the owner to be able to comply with the request. If the power lines cannot be de-energised, another option is to temporarily move the line. But this option also requires the permission of the owner and may take several weeks.
If minimum clearance distances can’t be observed the use of tag lines, elevated warning lines and a range of control warning device is recommended. Appointing a spotter dedicated to keeping an eye out on the power line, equipment, load line and load would also be helpful.
The Right Equipment for Your Cranes
Containit Solution is dedicated to helping the construction, transport, mining, distribution and gas sectors provide a safer, more efficient workplace for Australia’s labour force. We supply craneable lifting mesh cages that are engineered to Australian safety standards.
Our zinc-plated lifting cages for cranes are suitable for storage on pallet racking. They are versatile and stackable, easing storage and transport during operations.
For quality products and unequalled customer service, get in touch with Containit Solutions today.