VIC: safety alert issued on remote controlled crane operation

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.
Monday, 20 January, 2020 - 15:30
Policy & legislation

WorkSafe Victoria recently issued a safety alert about the use of plant or equipment, following an incident involving the death of an employee who inadvertently activated a bridge crane remote control.

The worker was killed after a bridge crane collided with a raised mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) that the employee was working from, when the remote control for the bridge crane was inadvertently operated by the employee, resulting in the MEWP overturning.

The safety alert said remote controls or transmitting units, including those configured through smartphones and associated apps, are regularly used to operate plant in many industries including construction, logistics, mining, agriculture and forestry.

The operation of these items can bring plant or the items that the plant is handling in close proximity to persons.

Should a remote control device be inadvertently operated or activated it can place persons at risk of serious injury or death.

The alert said employers and self-employed persons should:

  • Where possible, ensure that a function enable switch is incorporated into the design of the remote control device. A function enable switch ensures that an additional input into the remote control must be made before the desired function can occur. The function enable switch could be in the form of a hold bar, trigger, button or pull-to-operate design in addition to the function control
  • Set the automatic power off (where available) to the shortest time that is practical to avoid inadvertent activation of the remote control
  • Require employees to switch off or deactivate remote controls after use
  • Regularly undertake analysis to ensure that the operating frequencies of the remote controls do not affect other remote-controlled plant or equipment at the workplace
  • Ensure that buttons on remote controls are recessed or protected, and those fitted with joysticks or levers have rollover bars fitted
  • Ensure that all controls that cause the plant to move, return to a neutral position once released
  • Take measures to prevent unauthorised use, such as ensuring that remote controls are locked away in a secure location when not in use, or utilising remote controls with a personal identification numbers feature, so that they can only function when the correct code is initially entered
  • Ensure that remote controls are not placed on the floor or at a location where they can be knocked or stepped on, such as providing a holder or designated storage location for the remote control
  • Ensure that the location at which the operator is operating the remote control is designated for the purpose, free of tripping hazards and provides adequate line-of-sight of the activity being undertaken
  • Ensure that the operator does not simultaneously operate the remote control and move to another location. To avoid inadvertent operation of the remote control, the operator should isolate the equipment or switch off the remote control prior to repositioning themselves
  • Ensure that the remote controls are set-up, paired, inspected, maintained and operated in accordance with the manufacturers’ specifications.