The Australian third party inspection programme CraneSafe celebrated its 10th anniversary in January.
The programme started in the state of Victoria, as CraneSafe was born out of the Green Sticker that was originally issued by WorkSafe Victoria. The gap left in the crane industry when this service was withdrawn was not recognised as a problem at first, but with an increasing number of used cranes coming into the country, it was quickly apparent that not everyone was as diligent in meeting regulations as they should be.
Government controlled inspection was not possible at the time so the Crane Industry Council of Australia (CICA) took up the challenge and with the initial steering committee of Maurie Hill of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), Allan Beacom & Keith Houston of WorkSafe Victoria, Hugh Morris of the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) and Jeff Brundell of CICA, the programme was initially developed for five classes of mobile cranes and has grown over the years to 16 classes, with more to on the horizon.
527 assessments were carried out in that first year, initially in Victoria and New South Wales. By 2011 the number has grown to 5,869 cranes assessed. A total of 9,042 different cranes have been inspected over the 10 years, by 67 endorsed assessors and a total of 35,404 faults have been detected.
Jeff Brundell, now national director of CraneSafe said: “The faults have included a high number of shortfalls found in imported used cranes. Many owners were blissfully unaware that their crane did not conform to most of the states regulations or Australian Standards. If an accident had occurred, it would be highly likely a prosecution could have occurred. It is estimated that at least one in three of all imported used cranes had a serious shortfall in rudimentary requirements for the crane to operate in Australia.”
“Thankfully, many of these issues were detected by the CraneSafe endorsed assessors and rectified. This was largely an unexpected bonus for many owners who trusted the original importer to correctly modify cranes to conform to Australian requirements.”
“One of the largest hurdles to overcome in the initial CraneSafe introduction period was the perception that only highly skilled experts for any particular brand, or even model, could carry out a Periodic Inspection. This fallacy was quickly disproved with the multitude of faults that were not detected by these experts. Hugh Morris, who ran his own hire company at the time, was highly sceptical that any faults would be detected in his cranes as his belief in his own company was absolute. He quickly changed his opinion after one of the initially appointed assessors - John Rutherford - found so many defective wire ropes that had to be replaced.”
Another issue that came up along the way was the acceptance of pre-delivery inspections by suppliers of new cranes. CraneSafe initially accepted them as adequate for issuing a CraneSafe Green Sticker. However it subsequently discovered that this was not always the case and the policy was ended and the enforcement of CraneSafe inspections applied to new cranes as well.
“The reality is that the CraneSafe assessors do not have to be the absolute experts in all cranes known to man. The assessor does however have to recognise faults that are common in most equipment. They know where cracks are likely to develop, they know if a slew ring has excessive wear, they know what wear is acceptable, they know if an LMI is not functioning in accordance with the load charts supplied and so on,” said Brundell
“Once the fault is identified, it is then the responsibility of the expert to provide a fix, and this is how the system should work. The assessors are audited by CraneSafe and regular electronic messages and assessors meetings are held in each State.”
CraneSafe is a division of CICA, meaning that it is owned by the crane industry and a Not-for-profit organisation. The funds raised by the programme are used for safety initiatives requested by members and for furthering the requirements of the crane industry throughout Australia.
Two of the latest projects include the CICA Endorsed Engineers List and a CICA Major Inspection Verification Plate intended to provide purchasers of used equipment with a certified confirmation that a crane has undergone a proper major inspection.
The CraneSafe programme has generally been an unmitigated success. The beauty of it is that it is industry led, practical, yet tough and independent. It has also started to generate some exceptionally useful data for crane manufacturers, rental companies and others on common faults that develop with certain crane types or models etc…
It would be good to see similar programmes developing in the vast majority of countries, such as the UK and the USA, where there no industry wide third party inspection system exists.
Finally and most importantly, congratulations to CraneSafe and CICA on the 10th anniversary, the Australian crane industry is without question much safer today as a result of its efforts.