Safe Work Australia reviews high-risk work licensing for cranes

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Sunday, 15 May, 2022 - 12:00
Industry news
National News

Safe Work Australia is reviewing high-risk work licensing for cranes and has invited public consultation on a discussion paper which examines contemporary work practices and equipment in the industry.

The paper also focuses on perceived issues with the model WHS laws related to crane licensing that may have a significant impact on workers, businesses and the community, including issues related to crane licence classes and crane definitions.

The latest national data available shows that, as of April 2022, there were more than 220,000 active crane licences across Australia.

“Mobile cranes are used frequently, across many types of workplaces, and in areas where they interact with workers and the public,” the paper said.

However, there were less than 7000 tower crane licences issued nationally in 2015, and the paper said this suggests there may be a disproportionately high number of tower crane-related incidents.

“Recent data from NSW shows the number of incidents resulting in serious injury and involving tower cranes more than tripled from 2015–2018,” the paper said.

In NSW between 2012 and 2019, the industries with the highest proportion of crane incidents were construction, manufacturing, and transport/storage, and being “hit by load” was the most common cause of crane incidents (42 per cent).

In NSW between 2012 and 2019, human error was identified as the immediate cause of 82 per cent of all crane-related incidents where an immediate cause was identified.

Faulty equipment was the second most frequent immediate cause, accounting for 12 per cent of all crane-related incidents.

“This suggests worker competency is a major factor in the vast majority of crane-related incidents,” the paper said.

“Finding ways to improve worker competency will likely be critical to improving crane safety and reducing the number of crane-related incidents.”

Safe Work Australia invited stakeholders with an interest in the high-risk work licensing framework, such as businesses operating, supplying or manufacturing cranes, unions, workers, regulators, industry bodies, government departments and members of the public, to provide their views.

Submissions from those involved in other high-risk work related to crane operations, particularly dogging and rigging work, were also encouraged.

Submissions are open until Thursday 16 June and can be made online.