The Victoria/Tasmania branch of CICA - the Crane Industry Council of Australia - announced a new collaboration project with Worksafe Victoria last month to collect raw data involving crane incidents on construction sites in the state. The first report covers the full year statistics for 2019.
Given that some of the data is sensitive, with the potential to interfere with ongoing investigations or cause reputational damage, details that might have identified the particular incident have been removed along with some fields of information, leaving broad categories and preliminary factual descriptions of equipment type, job type and incident type. In spite of this much can still be learnt about the typical causes of accidents and what goes wrong.
In 2019 there were a total of 84 incidents and 42 near misses. The three largest hazard categories were:
1. Struck/pinned or crushed by load – 25 percent
2. Falling objects – 24 percent
3. Crane impact during operation – 19 percent
Incidents in category one - struck, pinned or crushing - resulted in a 95 percent injury rate, with 58 percent of them being crushed hands or fingers, while 32 percent involved crushing of heavy contact with the whole body or a limb, and 10 percent heads. Categories two and three were largely injury free and in a way similar to a ‘near miss’ or ‘dangerous occurrence’.
Most hand injuries in category one were incurred by slingers/dogmen while slinging or landing loose loads such as pipes or steel in stillages or when wrapping chains around a loose load. The body crush incidents often occurred due to load swing or unstable load shifts. On more than one occasion, the causal factor was a snagged load. There were two serious head injuries which were both from impacts with the rigging chains, one load swing, and the other an unintended chain disconnection.
CICA said: “Large numbers of dogmen (slingers/riggers) are being struck or crushed by loads while slinging or landing them causing numerous lacerations and fractures to all parts of the body. The knock on effects are disastrous for both individuals, companies, and industry as a whole. We must remain vigilant and remember our slinging correct techniques and the golden rule is: ‘if something doesn’t look right, don’t lift it’. Lifting paths should be clear of personnel and obstructions and loads should be initially lifted just off the ground to check stability and for excess movement. The data shows that crush injuries are happening for many different reasons, but each incident has one thing in common, it was avoidable. Complacency is the enemy, and it only takes one small mistake and your life or your mate’s life could be changed forever.”
First quarter stats
The first quarter data for 2020 has also been released, with just 18 incidents recorded.
It also shows a remarkable swing - away from crushing or trapping incidents to falling loads which represented 44 percent of them, a breakdown of the causes indicates that 56 percent of falling loads were due to slinging issues or unsecured loads, with two cases involving failed lugs in pre-cast concrete panels. Fall from height while working on the crane was in second place at 17 percent/three incidents, with two of them resulting in serious injury and the third saved by the properly functioning inertia reel lanyard and safety harness.
We will publish more of this data in the next Cranes & Access magazine and carry the CICA Victoria bulletins in our online library going forward. In the meantime you can take a look at the bulletins at: www.cica.com.au/past-safety-bulletins