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Cranes and lifting equipment a serious injury risk

There have been numerous incidents at Queensland workplaces this year involving cranes and lifting equipment that had the potential to cause serious injury to workers.

The cause of these incidents can be broken into five broad categories:

  • failure due to incorrect slinging and rigging techniques
  • loose objects falling from loads being lifted
  • loads colliding with adjacent structures or plant causing items to dislodge and fall
  • cranes not being used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
  • incorrect crane selection and siting.

Incorrect rigging and slinging techniques

Workers should be trained and verified to perform tasks and it is vital the crane is rigged to the manufacturer’s instructions. If practicable, utilise engineered lifting points.

These measures should be complemented by:

  • selecting the right equipment, ensuring chains/slings have sufficient WLL, and when lifting with synthetic slings, using sling protection
  • following guides provided by the designer, manufacturer or supplier and consulting with workers, with pre-start meetings discussing proposed safe methods
  • ensuring doggers/riggers in control of the load are outside the zone where they could be struck – and implementing exclusion zones so workers not involved are outside the lifting area
  • ensuring equipment is inspected and is up to date as specified by the manufacturer.

Loose objects falling from loads being lifted

Ensure a safe system of work is in place to conduct, inspect and remove all loose items from loads prior to lifting (e.g. loose z-bar nuts on formwork shutters, items above the fill line of a skip bin) and don’t overfill bins or lifting boxes. Avoid items that protrude or overhang from the bin or lifting box.

Cover bins and lifting boxes and don’t rely on plastic wrap or similar methods to retain objects lifted in bulk. Loose items should be inside a lifting box/cradle or strapped with form ply.

Loads colliding with adjacent structures or plant

Before work begins, design the workplace layout to locate storage and delivery areas away from structures so that loads can be lifted free of obstructions. Use tag lines to stabilise loads where required and monitor wind conditions and only lift when safe to do so.

Ensure that the dogger or rigger has clear sight of the load and can direct the crane operator as needed. Plant like concrete placing booms should be away from the crane or the lifting operations - and if other equipment is operating on site, have a safe system of work for the interaction.

Cranes not being used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions

All operators need the appropriate high-risk work licence for the type of crane, and familiarisation training must be conducted for the specific crane. Procedures must be in place to ensure workers follow the manufacturer’s instructions, particularly during setup and shutdown.

Incorrect crane selection and siting causing crane overturning

Ensure the right capacity crane is selected to prevent the plant from overturning and at all times focus on the heaviest loads and maximum lift radius. Consultation should occur to verify the safest site location for assembly, with ground conditions assessed.

Further information

Read the Tower Crane Code of Practice 2017 (PDF, 1.56 MB) and Mobile Crane Code of Practice 2006 (PDF, 1.34 MB).