9 Tower Crane Safety Tips For Construction Activities
Working with tower cranes poses several hazards on construction sites. Improper work practices and unoptimised operations can potentially result in a slew of major and life-threatening injuries.
Additionally, tower crane safety issues can also result in costly damage to buildings, equipment, and other structures.
This is why one cannot underscore the importance of risk assessment and awareness when working with tower cranes on construction sites. Tower crane safety is vital, as it helps prevent accidents and ensures a safe workplace as operations are ongoing.
This guide discusses some measures to avoid the most common crane hazards and pitfalls and ensure a safe working environment for managers and workers.
1. Work With Qualified Engineers
Tower crane engineers are mainly responsible for transporting the crane to the construction site, creating a lifting plan, and ensuring all tower crane operators have the necessary information to operate the equipment efficiently and safely.
Before working with a tower crane, these engineers must also consider various aspects such as:
- Support surface analysis
- Crane mat design
- Crane materials
- Clearance issues
- Crane location
- Outrigger loads
- Rigging designs
- Ground conditions
- Tower height
- Base structure
- Anchor bolts
- Wind speeds and conditions
With all these responsibilities, tower crane engineers play a significant role in achieving tower crane safety. Construction managers should always be mindful of engaging with only licensed engineers who can design the right tower crane conditions suitable for the job.
All of the above factors are included in the tower crane plan.
2. Design Workplace Safety Plans
Tower crane operations cannot commence without safety work plans designed to assess potential hazards and communicate the measures that must be undertaken to minimise or control them.
For every tower crane operation, engineers should design a risk assessment or safety plan, which will be reviewed by the construction site manager.
These will be covered during the pre-construction safety training/meeting, wherein the contractor defines project expectations regarding tower crane safety, efficiency, and performance.
After the contractors review the plan, it must be acknowledged by the crew (including workers and tower crane operators) by signing the plan and verbally communicating that they understand it.
3. Inspect The Tower Crane
Tower crane maintenance and inspection should regularly be done to ensure it’s compliant with workplace safety regulations. A designated inspector should first assess all crane components to prevent mechanical failure and determine parts which require repairs, alterations, or replacement.
Before tower crane operations begin, site managers must have also hired an independent firm to assess the engineer’s safety plans and calculations.
The engineer should also conduct periodic inspections of the tower crane erection and climbing, jumping, and rigging operations. This is designed to ensure that the tower crane is compliant with the approved safety plans.
4. Train All Tower Crane Workers
Workers involved with tower crane-related operations and activities should have been certified and completed a relevant crane operator course.
As valuable as tower cranes are in completing construction projects, they can also be a source of risk and severe injury if not operated by a trained individual.
Knowing this, all tower crane workers should understand the basics of tower crane safety training, such as:
- Assembly and disassembly
- Pre-lifting equipment planning
- Load radius calculation
- Knowledge of common crane hazards
- Rigging equipment
- Knowledge of tower crane communication and signalling with other operators
- Fall protection
Again, the general contractor is responsible for covering all of the above during the pre-construction safety meeting.
Everyone, including the construction site manager, tower crane engineer, lift director, safety manager, tower crane operator, signal person, flagger, jumping crew, etc., must be present during the meeting.
5. Determine The Wind Speed Load
Sudden weather conditions can make tower crane operations much more difficult.
Even if crane inspections have yielded no issues regarding its safety and functionality, operators cannot undermine the impacts of environmental conditions.
Most modern crane operator cabs are built with wind speed indicators that tell operators of current wind speeds and conditions. This feature should also be used to determine the tower crane’s wind loads to prevent the tower crane from tilting or toppling over.
Tower crane manufacturers may prepare load charts, but these do not account for possible wind conditions affecting tower crane safety.
With this in mind, operators should take great caution when the wind speeds are between 0 to 32 km/h by reducing the loads carried by the tower crane.
The operator should retract the boom at higher speeds (above 65 km/h) or cease crane operations altogether.
6. Put Together A Skilled Team Of Engineers And Operators
Several tower crane accidents have resulted from improper installation or failure to adhere to maintenance protocols.
In 2019, for instance, improper storage of a tower crane’s erection ropes led to a fatal accident.
The erection rope was entangled with the tower crane’s machinery, which prevented the jib from being lowered further. This caused the rope to give way and release the jib, causing it to freefall onto the worker.
Therefore only qualified workers should be allowed to set up tower cranes. Your team should consist of a licensed master rigger, a lift director, and a certified tower crane operator.
Additionally, a site manager should also be present to oversee the tower crane’s installation and ensure there are no jammed or loose tower crane components.
7. Design A Rigging Plan
Before tower crane-related construction activities begin, a qualified rigger must design a rigging plan.
The rigging plan should contain information on the proper equipment to hoist loads onto the crane safely. It should also include instructions regarding equipment inspection, maintenance, and storage.
8. Avoid Power Lines
Tower cranes should not be erected in locations where they could collide with power lines.
Managers must ensure enough clearance between the power lines and the crane’s rotation radius. They may also contact local utility providers to de-energise the power lines and avoid deadly electrical hazards.
9. Don’t Leave The Crane Unattended
Unless the tower crane has been completely switched off and there are no loads suspended from the hook, site workers should never leave the crane unattended.
If the crane operator must attend to an emergency or other construction activities, they must first shut down the crane properly by engaging motion brakes and tower crane safety locks.
The operator must also pull back the hook toward the highest working position while the electrical power is switched off.
10. Inspect The Tower Crane For Damages
Dismantling a tower crane is far more hazardous and difficult than erecting it. Workers should also take great care even after operations are done.
One way to achieve this is by inspecting the tower crane’s components for signs of damage and potential hazards.
For instance, a worker should inspect the tower ring for any cracks. They should also check bolting surfaces and weld cracks wherever possible.
Conclusion About Tower Crane Safety
Tower cranes are indispensable to any construction activity involving hoisting loads and moving them from one place to another.
As valuable as they are, they can also be a source of hazards.
Contact Pollisum via WhatsApp or call us at +65 67557600 for more information on tower cranes.
Frequently Asked Questions About Tower Crane Safety
Common crane accidents are often the result of colliding with power lines, mechanical failure, overturning, falling from heights, and slipping.
Mobility is the primary difference between tower cranes and mobile cranes. Tower cranes are erected at a fixed location, while mobile cranes can move freely from one job site to another. Due to the setup efforts required for Tower cranes, tower cranes are rented at longer periods as compared to mobile cranes.
Tower cranes don't fall over due to overturning forces that counteract the concrete base where it's installed. The tower crane attaches to this concrete base to prevent the crane from tipping over.
Either electricity or diesel can power a tower crane. Tower cranes are often built nearby high-rise structures, following critical safety procedures.