1/9/08 NSW: Tower crane safety reminder
Tower Crane safety reminder

WorkCover NSW today 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 last week when a Comedil CT 651 hammerhead tower crane dropped its load from a height of approximately 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 that adequate risk assessment and control measures should be taken to prevent the collapse of tower cranes,” Mr Blackwell said.

“It is important that the designer’s and manufacturer’s 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.

“A crane collapse is an extremely dangerous occurrence that has the potential for catastrophic results, including serious injury and property damage,” he said.

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 the Australian Standard 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

Mr Blackwell said although NSW has the lowest incidence of workplace injury in 20 years, it is important to remain vigilant.

Practical guidance on the safe use of tower cranes and self-erecting tower cranes, including planning, selection, installation, maintenance, inspection, repair, operation and records, is provided in AS 2550.4 and AS 2550.20.

Further information on workplace safety or the safe operation of tower cranes is available from the WorkCover website or by calling 13 10 50.


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