Crane Safety in Extreme Weather Conditions

05 December 2016

Precautionary steps need to be taken if extreme weather conditions are challenging established crane safety measures, for no one can exert control over the elements, at least not yet. Begin by establishing a baseline parts anchoring strategy at the end of a shift, a procedure that habitually parks all moving parts, beginning with the jib and the rigging.

Park Moving Parts

Offload cargo and reel in the hook block. Next, park the hook and remove cable slack so that no pendulum action can take place. Lower the boom and use its securing mechanism, if fitted, to combat strong winds. The parked and lowered frame will defeat wind shear and stop the boom from acting as a lightning rod. These sensible tips mostly apply to mobile cranes, for tower variants are considered a special case.

Tower Cranes and Derrick Frames

There’s no folding away or lowering assemblies in this difficult scenario. The boom will have to bear the brunt of the weather conditions. This is done, again, by parking the cable and rigging, but more work needs to be done before the structure can be regarded as ready for the coming storm. A freewheeling, semi-regulated weathervane mode is activated before high winds rise. The release of the slew brake then permits the crane tower to move freely so that it doesn’t fight the effects of the wind.

Safely Accounting for All Weathering Effects

Heavy rain seems harmless to a rugged crane, but the streaming rivulets of water can significantly alter a lift cycle. The moisture penetrates brake discs and clutch assemblies. Stop the work if the load is heavy enough to raise a safety officer’s concern, for drum slippage will occur if the clutch mechanism is compromised. If no other strategies seem workable, consult the crane manual to see if has any weathering aptitude. Again, should the heavy rain shower escalate until a rumble of thunder is likely, close everything down, lower the boom, and do not touch any exposed metal parts, for a lightning strike may be due.

Funnel decisions through the hands of a competent person, someone that can assess the effects of the wind when the crane is positioned between buildings or on unstable soil. At the end of the day, the weather is hard to predict, so keep crane safety practices tight when extreme weather conditions arrive. Better yet, consult the local met office to get plenty of warning before the weather changes.

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