Cranes are a really big part of Australia's building industry, and as with any other part of the building and construction industry it's vital that safety plays a big role. Unlike most of the other industries in the world, the building industry is unique in the sense that if something goes wrong it can be catastrophic on a human level. If something goes wrong in an office though, you might lose a file or post a bad tweet. On a construction site you could lose your life! Cranes are one of the most potentially risky parts of a construction site, which is why crane safety is so vital. Accidents that happen that cause damage to workers and property can be hugely difficult to deal with for everyone involved, and even when no-one is hurt the potential for costs following an incident are huge. I want to explore some of the key parts of crane safety and explain each element in the hopes that it helps you to stay safer around your building site.So, what could go wrong?
Here is a list of the potential hazards:
- The crane could tip over
- The crane could be set up on unstable or uneven ground
- The crane could be positioned near overhead wires and placed with insufficient clearance
- The crane might not be set up properly as per the manufacturer’s instructions
- There may be insufficient counter weight available for the crane to use to balance out the load
- There may be wind hazards or weather hazards
- Weights lifted could be incorrectly calculated and cause unbalanced lifting
- The crane could fail due to a structural issue
- There could be a fire in the crane, potentially trapping workers
- The crane may not be assembled properly
- The crane may hit people or buildings
- A load from the crane may drop and injure people or property
- The crane could come into contact with powerlines
- Safe zones around the crane may not be maintained
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and as you can see the potential for a hazard occurring is large. I want to look at three of these issues in more detail just to see why crane safety is so important.
Incident One: The crane could tip over
When working to set up a crane there are many things that need to be perfect in order for everything to be safe. The crane must be secured on firm, stable and suitable ground for the structure. Cranes are very heavy and need to be stable in order to work well. To avoid the potential for a crane tipping, workers and crane operators need to ensure that the crane is set up correctly and is on stable, compacted ground.
Incident Two: The crane could hit people or property
When working with a crane there needs to be a sufficient clearance area around the crane's boom and lift zone. This will ensure that people are free from the hazard area. Identifying the risk area and working out a plan to ensure that people stay clear of the crane's lift zone should be part of the overarching workplace safety program and is something that everyone is familiar with.
Incident Three: The crane could fail due to a structural issue
Cranes are sometimes used to transport workers to building sites, and in some instances the crane may fail halfway up-leaving people stranded in the air. To avoid this kind of event happening, the crane needs to be in good working order, and there also needs to be a contingency plan in place to call upon if something like this does happen.
Crane safety is of the utmost importance, and it's vital that you understand the possible risks so that you are better prepared for your time on the building site. Don't forget-if you're in doubt , consult your OH&S provider on site to find out the protocol. When prospecting crane hire, ensure they are fully licensed.