Crane Safety 101 – Whose Job is it Anyway?

So let’s talk crane safety and you can decide if you need the training for your crane operators, crane signal person duties, crane rigging safety, proper crane rigging, all of your crane activities.

A UK research report RR820, called ‘Tower Crane Incidents Worldwide’ was prepared by the HSL – Health and Safety Laboratory for the HSE – Health and Safety Executive 2010 authored by Richard Isherwood has some interesting facts that may help you decide. The report’s intent was to determine how many Tower Crane accidents have happened worldwide from 1989 to 2009 and to try to ascertain the causal factor of each accident.  The report concluded that 85 accidents had happened with one more recent accident occurring in 2009 but at the time of writing the report that accident and the legal outcome had not been released yet, therefore was not included in his report.

‘The outcome was put into 7 categories, listed below:

Erection/Dismantling/Extending the crane – 29 incidents (34%)

Extreme Weather – 15 incidents (18%)

Foundation Issues – 2 incidents (2%)

Mechanical or Structural Issues – 4 incidents (5%)

Misuse – 6 incidents (7%)

Electrical/Control System Issues – 1 incident (1%)

Unknown Causes – 28 incidents (33%)

There was NO particular crane manufacturer that was identified as being more prone to accidents than any other.’

From the data indicated above, one might conclude that 28 incidents from Unknown Causes might possibly be related to personnel errors or poor judgment, similarly the Misuse would probably apply another 6 incidents and finally operating in Extreme Weather, there were 15 incidents. Bottom line, could all be related to personal errors or poor judgment? It’s not stated as such, but leaving the conclusion open, sure guides someone perusing the data to ask that question. And if you happen to be in the business of using Tower Cranes, you should be asking yourself the same question ‘Are personal judgment errors being made and not reported to you?  Are you or your work crews unknowingly getting complacent with regards to Tower Crane Safety and Operation? Are you the next statistic to happen?

Personal errors and poor judgment could be tied to lack of training or lack of attention for ALL of the workers involved. From the crane operators to the riggers to the watchers, oilers, walkers and everyone else involved in the crane activities.

Experience has shown that staying current with worker training is not only a legal requirement, it can be a huge asset and tool for you as an employer and your workers as they watch out for each other during their daily duties. Passing along lessons learned in the industry is key to preventing similar accidents.


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