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Crane operations are highly complex. Working with heavy industrial machinery in demanding and hazardous environments requires exceptional attention to safety… and here at Two Way Cranes, we leave nothing to chance.
Michael Biviano, Work Health and Safety (WHS) Manager, discusses three of the most critical aspects of crane safety and how Two Way Cranes mitigates risk.
Operator competency is the first and most important factor that affects safe crane operation.
In Australia, you can complete a week-long course and earn yourself a crane ticket or you can attend TAFE and obtain Certificate III in Construction Crane Operations.
You can secure many different licence classes, but it all comes down to your experience. Michael explains,
“In our industry competency is a major issue. Like with any job, it’s possible for someone to make claims on their application about what they’ve done or their level of experience, but when push comes to shove – you can quite obviously see if they aren’t familiar with rigging gear or the cranes.
It comes down to the processes that a company has internally to verify the competency of each employee. Before allocating any employee to go anywhere near a crane, we must make sure that person has the right level of knowledge, skill and experience.”
An integral part of Two Way’s internal operator verification process is CrewSafe. This is an industry recognised system overseen by the Crane Industry Council of Australia (CICA). Michael expands on the system and how we utilise it:
“We understand the implicit need for verification of competency. In addition to our internal processes, we have also implemented an industry level verification process. These are impartial assessments of each individual per crane per model which include video documentation of all activities. Each operator has a unique ID number and all crane operation activities during this process are registered against this ID.
The CrewSafe verification process has specific criteria that each operator needs to meet as set out by CICA. Once each assessment is completed and recorded, the documented evidence is saved on the system as a ‘resume’ of the operator’s crane specific experience.”
We also have robust internal procedures for determining an operator’s knowledge and competency. Michael continues,
“We make sure that our team understands the importance of following the manufacturer’s guidelines for each separate model.
It doesn’t matter how much experience you’ve had in one crane; you could jump into another and not know the functions… you have to start with the basics – training, assessment and reading the manual!
We also frequently test our team members on their knowledge. Danny Adair and Frank Zammit regularly spot quiz the crews.
We need to make sure they know the fundamentals… every aspect of crane operations from the rigging and team communication to the different crane models and correct crane modes. This enables us to determine where their level of competency sits and what role we are comfortable to allocate them… or where extra training and familiarisation are required.
We understand that ongoing training is an essential part of maintaining a high level of competency within our workforce.”
Another important element of crane safety is machine maintenance. It’s imperative that a crane operates in its optimal condition. Our maintenance regime is extremely thorough, to make sure that our fleet remains contemporary and safe. Michael outlines our maintenance program:
“Each crane is subject to a vigorous maintenance schedule. Our mechanics ensure each crane is maintained as per manufacturer’s specifications, serviced every 500 hours of operation and inspected prior to every use.
In addition to this, we also do regular inspections every three months. These include topping up fluids and other minor tasks. Plant pre-start occurs daily where a full check of all engines, oil levels, assessment of the crane and all workable parts is conducted. This process is to ensure everything is in proper working order prior to any lifting operation.
We also have to ensure that every crane meets CraneSafe requirements, Australian Standards, site requirements and our own expectations.”
Another critical aspect of crane safety is the assessment of ground conditions. When a crane is set up or rolls in there is a substantial amount of bearing pressure applied to the ground’s surface. If the ground conditions aren’t able to withstand this pressure, it can lead to disastrous consequences. Michael explains,
“As part of our risk management process – prior to crane mobilisation – we have supervisors who inspect the ground conditions.
Within this inspection process we measure the area, determine access routes and investigate any potential environmental impact of the bearing pressure from the crane. This includes assessing if there are underground services such as pipes, electrical or other infrastructure, as well as natural resources and protected heritage. There are a lot of different factors that need to be considered. Once that assessment is complete, we develop a lift plan and gain permits as required.
The industry has seen many incidents due to ground conditions being incorrectly assessed, so we take this very seriously. As a company, we attempt to mitigate these risks as much as possible prior to any job.
Our operators and crew also conduct a visual ground inspection prior to every job, as conditions may change from when they were originally assessed by the supervisor. Geotech reports are also helpful as they offer validity of ground conditions and confirm the ground has the capacity to withstand the pressure of the crane.
When we work on suspended structures, we have to make sure the travel path can hold the crane as it moves into the work area. This is another instance when geotech and engineering reports are required. We make sure a crane doesn’t go in unless we know the ground conditions are appropriate.”
Two Way Cranes is the leader in materials handling and specialist lifting – and we never compromise on safety. We have decades of experience providing cranes and crews on everything from small builds to major civil infrastructure.