A proactive inspection program by WorkSafe WA has found that the owners of tower cranes have limited knowledge and understanding of the correct procedures for major inspections of tower cranes.
The inspection program was conducted throughout the 2019/20 financial year, looking at safety issues relating to tower cranes in service at WA construction sites in both metropolitan and regional areas.
The aim of the program was to ensure that tower cranes were being operated safely, said WorkSafe WA Director Sally North.
“Tower cranes are high hazard plant, and as they age it’s crucial that they undergo a major inspection to assess their continued safe operation,” North said.
“We used our registration database to identify tower cranes that were ten years of age or older and our inspector engineers then examined them closely, including seeking evidence that these cranes had been inspected by a competent person at the appropriate intervals.
“They discovered that many of the cranes were being maintained and inspected as per the manufacturer’s instructions, and others had been maintained in accordance with the relevant Australian Standard.”
For many of the tower cranes, North said the design life is not specified by the manufacturer, and the necessary information on when to conduct major inspections is not provided.
In situations such as this, the major inspection must be conducted as per the relevant Standard ten years at the most after the crane is commissioned.
North said the inspectors observed that in some cases major inspections had been conducted but the reports had often not been signed off by a competent person or professional engineer.
“All cranes audited as part of this program had their major inspections done when they were older than ten years, with most aged between 11 and 15 years,” she said.
“The risks associated with the failure of a tower crane make it crucial that they are maintained and inspected strictly in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions or the relevant Australian Standard.”