With crane crews needing regular access to the top decks of mobile cranes, it is important for industry to be constantly improving safety measures in line with the aim of zero harm, according to Cedric Froneman, Johnson Crane Hire’s executive for safety, health, environment and quality (SHEQ).
‘There are a range of protocols and requirements stipulated by construction regulations when it comes to ensuring safety in lifting operations, and safety levels have been considerably raised through industry compliance,’ says Froneman. ‘But there remain some unique challenges when dealing with large mobile cranes.’
He points out that, unlike many other construction environments, there are sometimes no attachment points directly above the head of a crew member working on top of a mobile crane, to which their lanyard – connected to their body harness – can be attached.
‘Instead of working with a fall factor of zero – which requires an anchor point above the head – we generally have to work with a more dangerous fall factor of two, as the only attachment points are at waist level or below,’ he says.
The result is that fall-arrest systems are not always effective, and more attention must be paid to the use of fall-restraint systems to avoid the fall in the first place. While original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) do provide fall-arrest devices or designs for their mobile cranes, these are often not issued as standard. This requires those users most concerned about safety to commit to extra investment, creating a potential commercial disadvantage.
‘It may require added regulation to ensure that a level playing field is created among OEMs and users, but we need to actively continue the safety discussion among stakeholders,’ he says. ‘OEMs are key players in this regard; their products are designed and manufactured to the highest technical standards, so users are not permitted to make their own modifications.’