Crane safety


19 July 2016

Three separate incidents have occurred in the ACT this year over an 8 week period involving tower cranes on construction sites.

The first incident involved the slewing jib of one tower crane coming into contact with the hoisting ropes of a second tower crane located on the site.

The second incident on another site involved the two tower cranes on the site colliding due to a lack of communication between the crane operators.

The third incident involved the jib of a single tower crane on a construction site being struck by the raised boom of a concrete placement truck. Again, lack of communication and collision avoidance systems were the main contributing factors.

Other incidents involving tower cranes in June 2016 were due to:

  • A system failure with manufacturer’s instructions when installing a luffing cable on a jib; and
  • A qualified electrician working on a heater in a tower crane cabin received serious electrical shock and electrical burns.

Contributing factors

Access Canberra reinforces to all workers and PCBU’s in the ACT the importance of maintaining sufficient clearances be- tween cranes and other plant and structures to avoid contact or collision.

Access Canberra advises that planning is a crucial step on construction sites where multiple tower cranes are working on the site close to other plant.

Factors to be considered include:

  • personnel movement within the crane working area
  • recognising the possibility of contact or collision between the crane and other plant or structures, for example scaffold, concrete placement booms.

Photo of crane in operation

Action required

Access Canberra advises that crane operators must ensure that work systems are established to ensure that when lifting or lowering the crane hook or load close to structures that the raise and lower speed is slow enough so that contact with a structure can be avoided and that the dogman has a clear view of the hook and load at all times.

An additional factor to consider is the requirement to ensure adequate resourcing to perform the role and that crew members have the appropriate levels of training and competency to perform their role safely.

Communication is also raised as an important issue, particularly between crane operators and dogmen, noting that work should stop immediately if there is a loss of communication. Access Canberra advises that a safe system of rules for communication should be developed and implemented, including:

  • consistent and clear radio communication
  • collision avoidance systems installed on the cranes
  • appropriately trained and examined workers in relation to competency, application and understanding of all systems
  • that records are kept in relation to systems and training.

Further information

For further information contact WorkSafe ACT on 13 22 81 or email

This Alert contains information emerging during an investigation by WorkSafe ACT into the mentioned incident at the date of this report. The information contained in this report does not necessarily reflect the final outcome of WorkSafe’s views or proposed actions with respect to this incident. WorkSafe ACT does not warrant the information in this report is complete or up-to date and does not accept any liability to any person for the information in this report, or its use.

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