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The Ultimate Crane Safety Guide

Crane accidents vs. Crane safety – Fundamentals every crane owner needs to consider

Accidents caused from crane activity occur all too often in the Australian economy. Between 2003 and 2013, Safework Australia reported 44 deaths from crane related incidents. The growth of the Australian economy is intrinsically integrated with the use of cranes, as highlighted in the video below.

However, it is in each crane operator and owners duty of care to prevent risks or hazards that could contribute to crane related accidents.

Crane accidents are more common than people think.


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Unsafe crane activities puts workers and bystanders at risk of sustaining injury or even death. It is critical that crane safety initiatives are practiced to minimise the risk of crane-related accidents. Below you can see a compilation of crane accidents from YouTube. Please be advised that the content may be shocking and you should watch it at your own discretion.

Tragic crane stories that have recently affected Australia.

On December 14th, 2015, Channel 9 News reported that an older man and his son were involved in a crane crash in Brisbane after they decided to go up the crane to take pictures. The father died and the son was taken away in a critical condition. Brisbane Times reported in November that a man in his early 30s had died after being run over by a crane in the workplace on a site at Ipswich in Queensland. Although both of these deaths were accidental, it shows how important crane safety is to protecting people that are on or around the crane site.

What are actions are required for crane safety going forward?

The code of practice for cranes is set by Safework Australia to avoid accidents like these, which can result in serious injury, trauma and death. Not for profit crane organisations like CraneSafe have taken crane safety initiatives forward by providing crane assessment programs throughout Australia. Crane owners already have a duty of care responsibility under each individual state’s operational health and safety (OH&S).

What are some of the risks and hazards associated with cranes?

It is important that the potential risks and hazards are identified, so they can be managed or controlled to minimise the threat of accidents. Hazards can occur from a range of factors, such as the following.

  • The crane itself.
  • How is the structure of the crane, mechanical power source, electrical and hydraulic systems, moving parts and load carrying capacity? Do any of these factors pose a risk to the crane’s operation?
  • The setup location of the crane.
  • Does the environment location of the crane pose any risk or danger? For example, will the environment be rough, muddy, sloping or uneven?
  • The crane’s operation.
  • Is there a process to safely manage the crane’s operation in terms of loads and in conjunction with other work being done in the area.
  • The dismantling of the crane.
  • Is there a process to safely and successfully manage the dismantling of cranes.


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Some of the other serious safety hazards crane operators need to be aware of include the following.

  • Structural failure.
  • Components of the crane could suffer from structural failure at any moment without warning. This could be the jib, boom, hydraulic arms or wire arms. It could also be a result of overloading the crane, gradual deterioration or lack of maintenance.
  • Overturning cranes
  • Inadequate setup or overloading contributes to cranes overturning. Poor ground conditions, failure to level the crane beyond its gradient limits, insufficient counterweights, high wind conditions or failure to successfully use outrigger pads are just some of the factors that influence the crane overturning.
  • Crane collapse
  • Poor installation or overloading the crane are some of the main reasons for crane collapses. The wrong use of counterweights, incorrect installation, poor design of the tower crane base or crane tower bolts being incorrectly torqued are a few of the influencers that may contribute to the crane collapsing.

Contact or collision with other people or objects.


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Crane operators need to be aware of the clearance space between the mobile crane, pedestrian traffic routes and other structures such as buildings and overhead lines.

Falling people and objects.

There is the risk of falling objects during the erecting or dismantling activities, as well as the risk of falling loads. Workers also face the risk of falling from heights. Hence why maintenance checks of tower cabins and using work boxes to lift and position workers is important as a safety measure.

Essential Crane Safety Resources

There are several web resources available that you can reference to improve the safety of your crane operations.

If your business is involved in crane operations, seek to improve safety initiatives by removing hazards or risks that may lead to accidents. It is in your duty of care to maintain the safety on your crane’s site.

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