Cranes are powerful pieces of machinery that enable builders to lift heavy materials on construction sites, shipments on transport docks and equipment on large-scale manufacturing industries. That being said, cranes are also potentially hazardous as the crane, crane lifting attachments, and the load they carry are extremely heavy and can cause harm when handled improperly. In 2015, RMIT surveyed Australia and found that, from 2004-2013, 359 workers reportedly experienced fatal injuries on the construction site due to crane-related accidents. Understanding the causes of such accidents and actively working to prevent them can help ensure safety on worksites.
According to the Loughborough Model, accidents are caused by three factors, namely, immediate circumstances, shaping factors and originating influences.
Immediate circumstances for crane-related accidents include poor condition, usability, sustainability, and maintenance of the crane, crane lifting attachments and rigging equipment.
They also include the weather and light conditions, features of the construction site, capability and motivation of the workers and more. Shaping factors include the factors that precede the circumstances including, poor communication and coordination, worker’s health, fatigue, lack of supervision, site constraints etc. Originating factors include the quality of project planning, management, level of education and training, economic climate, building design, poor safety culture and risk management strategies. Companies, industries, site supervisors and workers can follow these protocols to ensure that the site is safe.
Cranes are available in two forms, namely, fixed and mobile. They also come in different sizes, with rigs and crane lifting equipment. Industrial settings and large-scale construction sites utilize fixed cranes. Mobile cranes come in many varieties like carrying deck crane, crawler crane, rough-terrain crane and all-terrain crane to assist specific needs. Safety begins with hiring the right crane for the right job and investing in machines and crane lifting equipment from trusted vendors.
To ensure safe crane operation, companies must hire certified professionals who adhere to the regulations imposed by the government. Safe Work Australia requires trained and certified professionals on worksites and individuals who are evaluated before the hire.
Cranes built by different manufacturers have different controls and features that the operating workers and the supervisors must be aware of. They must know vital information like operation controls, safety mechanisms, load capacities, stabilizers and counterweights.
Supervisors and operators must perform pre-start, engine start-up, hydraulic system and safety system checks before operating the machine.
The managers, designers and site supervisors must plan and clear the crane’s path from all obstacles to ensure safety. It includes power lines, smaller machinery, workers, building materials etc.
The professional operators must stabilize the crane by following the manufacturer guidelines, using crane pads or outriggers appropriately to avoid tipping over.
Securely rigging the materials ensures safety on the worksites as it significantly decreases the risk of them falling and striking workers or causing damage. Hitching and sling angle are two of the most common forms of rigging used for heavy loads.
Workers must understand how the crane works and what forces work against it. They must also know how to read load charts and transfer the materials accordingly.
The companies or industries must train the workers regarding appropriate communication and signals essential on construction sites. They must also increase their awareness about workplace safety and provide protective gear to prevent major harm during accidents.