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Lifting operations – cranes

What you need to do

The law says that all lifting operations involving lifting equipment must be properly planned by a competent person; appropriately supervised; and carried out in a safe manner.

Important statistic

Since 2001 there have been 61 accidents involving tower cranes. 9 people have died, and 25 have been seriously injured.

Cranes and lifting accessories such as slings must be of adequate strength, tested and subject to the required examinations and inspections.

All crane operators, and people involved in slinging loads and directing lifting operations, must be trained and competent.

There are four key aspects to the safe use of cranes:

What you need to know

Tower and mobile cranes are used extensively on construction projects and present two principal hazards:

Other incidents have involved people being struck by moving loads, cranes contacting overhead conductors and cranes colliding with each other.

Important note for crane users: The legal responsibilities for safe lifting operations are usually shared between the crane hirer and crane user.

When a crane is hired the responsibility for planning, supervising and carrying out lifting operations rests with the user unless these responsibilities are explicitly assumed by the crane hire company under a ‘contract lift’.

People who hire cranes but do not have the necessary competencies for safe planning and use will need to opt for a ‘Contract Lift’ from the crane hire company.    

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Planning lifting operations

All lifting operations should be planned so they are carried out safely with foreseeable risks taken into account.

The person appointed to plan the lifting operation should have adequate practical and theoretical knowledge and experience of the lifts being undertaken.

The plan will need to address the risks identified by a risk assessment, the resources required, procedures and the responsibilities so that any lifting operation is carried out safely.

The plan should ensure that the lifting equipment remains safe for the range of lifting operations for which the equipment might be used.

British Standard BS 7121Part 1 2006 sets out an acceptable standard for managing lifting operations using cranes on construction projects.

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Safe systems of work

You must plan lifting operations carefully to ensure they are carried out safely. Your plan should result in a safe system of work which may need to be written down if it is a complex lift. This record is sometimes known as a method statement and you must ensure that everyone involved understands it.

Key elements include:

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Supervision of lifting

The right level of supervision must be in place for lifting operations, reflecting the degree of risk and personnel involved in the particular lifting operation.

The crane supervisor should direct and supervise the lifting operation to make sure it is carried out in accordance with the method statement.

The crane supervisor should be competent and suitably trained and should have sufficient experience to carry out all relevant duties and authority to stop the lifting operation if it is judged dangerous to proceed.

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Thorough examination

There are strict legal requirements concerning the thorough examination of all cranes:

Lifting equipment must be thoroughly examined at the prescribed intervals.  This is a detailed and specialised examination by a competent person.

The examination will usually be arranged by the crane hire company, although it is the responsibility of the crane user to ensure that all necessary examinations are carried out and that the required reports are in order. 

Records of thorough examinations and tests must be: readily available to enforcing authorities; secure; and capable of being reproduced in written form.

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2014-03-04