Safety reminder for working with tower cranes

Tuesday, 23 September, 2008

WorkCover NSW issued a reminder to the construction industry to ensure adequate safety precautions are followed when working with tower cranes.

The warning follows an incident on a Canberra construction site in August when a Comedil CT 651 hammerhead tower crane dropped its load from a height of two metres.

It is understood the crane, which had a lifting capacity of 5.9 tonnes, was lifting a 3.2 tonne steel shutter when the load fell to the ground. It appears that the gearbox or winch drum drive shaft components may have failed.

WorkCover NSW CEO Jon Blackwell said the incident serves as a timely reminder to all employers and workers to ensure there are sufficient safe work methods in place: “It is essential that adequate risk assessment and control measures should be taken to prevent the collapse of tower cranes. It’s important that the designers’ and manufacturers’ instructions regarding operation and maintenance are always observed.

“In November last year, WorkCover NSW issued a Safety Alert to owners and controllers of self-erecting tower cranes, highlighting the need to perform regular and diligent inspection and maintenance.”

Owners and controllers of tower cranes and self-erecting cranes can reduce the risk of a failure if they:

  • comply with the crane manufacturer’s instructions on operation, inspection, maintenance and repair;
  • comply with the requirements in AS 2550 (Part 4 and Part 20) on safe use of tower cranes and self-erecting tower cranes;
  • ensure a competent person reviews the crane maintenance records to ensure the manufacturer’s instructions are complied with;
  • ensure any signs of malfunction, damage or maintenance issues are assessed and rectified immediately, even if this means taking the crane out of service until the deficiency is rectified.

AS 2550.4 and AS 2550.20 provide practical guidance on the safe use of tower cranes and self-erecting tower cranes, including planning, selection, installation, maintenance, inspection, repair, operation and record-keeping.


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