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WorkCover hosts tower crane safety roundtable

WorkCover New South Wales – Australia hosted a tower crane safety roundtable on Tuesday, following the fire and jib collapse last week. It has followed up with a communique covering the meeting which pretty much speaks for itself, so here it is in full:


“The Tower Crane Safety Roundtable was held 4 December 2012. The Roundtable was convened by WorkCover NSW and attended by representatives of the building industry, unions, crane suppliers and the Industry Plant Consultative Committee.

The Roundtable considered a range of tower crane safety issues following the fire that seriously damaged a crane causing significant damage to part of the construction site located at the University of Technology, Sydney Broadway on Tuesday 27 November 2012.

Roundtable representatives were provided with updates by WorkCover officials, industry and unions in relation to tower crane safety initiatives.

These tower crane initiatives included:
• WorkCover’s Pant Verification Program 2009 -2011.
• WorkCover’s High Consequence Low Frequency Program 2012.
• Crane Industry Council of Australia CraneSafe program.
• The NSW Industry Plant Consultative Committee.

WorkCover officials provided a preliminary briefing in relation to possible root causes and preliminary actions in relation to reviewing and monitoring risk controls. While the actual cause of the incident is not yet known, a number of potential causes have been identified. The Roundtable agreed that all persons in control of tower cranes should address the following key risk controls:

Fire prevention measures
• Check fuel lines and hydraulic hoses are located away from ignition sources or guarded to prevent leaking fluid from contacting potential ignition sources.
• Do not store unnecessary quantities of combustibles on the machine deck.
• Enhance inspection and maintenance programs to prevent or minimise fluid leaks, including preventative maintenance to replace hoses before they fail.
• When replacing hoses ensure that they meet crane manufacturer’s specifications.
• Ensure hydraulic systems are operating as designed and any malfunctions, including leaks, are repaired prior to the crane resuming service.

Fire control measures
• Ensure fire extinguishing equipment and fire detection and control systems are correctly maintained and serviced.
• Ensure operators understand the use of fire extinguishing equipment provided.

Evacuation procedures and systems
• Review site evacuation procedures to include consideration of structural collapse including tower cranes.
• Ensure emergency plans and communication systems are adequate and well maintained.

The Roundtable was also reminded of the need to be vigilant about general site safety including falls from heights.

The Roundtable noted that WorkCover is to release a tower crane safety alert to industry which will include the preliminary actions discussed at the Roundtable.

The Roundtable agreed for the Industry Plant Consultative Committee to review existing risk control advice and industry practice, including independent crane pre-erection and pre-use inspection systems, to ensure that they address the risks identified in this most recent incident.

Roundtable attendees were advised that the WorkCover investigation into the fire will take some time to complete, however as further more detailed risk information comes to hand this information will be disseminated to industry in a form which will assist industry in progressing prevention actions.

The chair thanked all attendees for their willingness to work constructively to identify key issues and apply lessons learnt from this unusual but high consequence incident. The outcomes of the Roundtable are designed to secure the safety and security of workers and the public in relation to use of tower cranes at construction sites.”

To see the original incident report Click here The damaged crane has now been removed.

Vertikal Comment

It is good to see such a swift and positive reaction to the incident which could so easily have been catastrophic, had it not been for a very diligent and fearless operator and a good measure of luck.

Even at this very early stage the bulletin clearly highlights some of the contributing points to watch out for. Once again the guys down under show how it should be done when it comes to communicating accident information and the lessons to be learnt.