Tower crane inspectors travel WA
WorkSafe Western Australia (WorkSafe WA) has announced that it is conducting a proactive inspection program at the state’s construction sites geared towards identifying safety issues of tower cranes. In-service tower cranes on construction sites in both metropolitan and regional areas of the state could face inspection. The purpose of the program is to ensure that tower cranes are being operated safely, according to WorkSafe WA Director Sally North: “As these large items of machinery age, it’s crucial that they undergo a major inspection to assess their continued safe operation. WorkSafe registers these tower cranes, so we have a database of the cranes that have been registered and can ascertain how long each one has been in service.”
North said that WorkSafe WA will “use this database to identify the potentially high risk tower cranes that are 10 years of age or older, and it is these that inspectors will be examining closely. If these tower cranes are not correctly maintained and serviced, there can be a malfunction that can potentially result in an extremely serious incident.” In particular, the program is focused on determining whether employers are inspecting in-service tower cranes to ensure they are being properly maintained and are in accordance with the relevant Australian Standard or the manufacturer’s instructions.
WorkSafe WA have advised that inspectors will use a checklist to help ensure consistency across the program. The inspection criteria include four key areas, namely: items of plant registration; design; maintenance and inspection; and other. The scope of this criteria is as follows:
- Item of plant registration: Here, inspectors will be ensuring that the crane is registered, and that the registration number is marked and evidence of registration is displayed.
- Design: The design of the crane will be assessed to ensure it is registered and, again, that evidence of this is available.
- Maintenance and inspection: This aspect of the criteria relates to ensuring that designer or manufacturer instructions for the crane are available, and also that the crane is being suitably maintained and inspected in accord with these written instructions.
Other: This area of the inspection program seeks to ensure that the crane’s load chart is legible and written in English, also that operator controls are labelled, there are communications in place between the crane operator and those on the ground and that relevant qualifications are held by the crane operator.
Regarding the importance of this proactive inspection program, North said, “The risks associated with the failure of a tower crane make it crucial that they are maintained and inspected strictly in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions or the relevant Australian Standard. This proactive inspection program is just one in an extensive schedule of programs focusing on particular industries or activities and aimed at providing employers and employees with information on how to make workplaces safer.” North also explained that WorkSafe WA “aims to help employers comply with workplace safety and health laws, and we firmly believe that raising awareness is the best way in which to lessen the risk of work-related injury and illness.” And, while the primary focus of the proactive inspection programs is to deliver information to employers, North concluded that “enforcement action will be taken during programs if breaches of the laws are found”. WorkSafe WA’s tower crane proactive inspection program will continue until the end of the 2019/20 financial year.
To operate a tower crane, a person must hold the relevant high risk work licence. Information on siting, erecting and using tower cranes can be found via Safe Work Australia, which has a guide.
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