industrial or construction projects) has a 40 metre boom. Add to that, another 14 metres of fly boom. All in all, it produces a fall-zone, an impact area, of 108 metres. And there’s no way of being sure that a falling or tipping crane will fall in the direction of its boom. A crane boom could fall in any direction.
Such an accident might result from some invisible ground instability — such as the presence of underground services. There may be a failure in information, an error in calculation, an oversight in the crane company’s systems or an operator mistake.
These issues — information, calculations, systems, mistakes — are the focus of significant and continuing work in developing national guidelines by McLeod Cranes, the leading Bay of Plenty and central North Island mobile crane company.
Managing director, Scott McLeod says, “Crane operation is accompanied, day-in, day-out, by multiple points of potential failure, multiple risks of serious accident. And these may be the instantaneous effects of small failures. If a chain is overloaded and breaks, the load swings out. If the load swings out of radius, the crane tips.” He adds, “Regulations can only do so much but there’s often an education gap. A gap of practical knowledge between over-arching regulations and approved codes of practice on the one hand, and
adherence to relevant requirements in day-to-day operations.
Some regulations are broad brush, such as the ‘Pressure Equipment, Cranes & Passenger Ropeway Regulations’. Others are highly technical and specific. Putting it simply, the rules and the real world can
sometimes be a distance apart. In other areas too, there’s a complete gap in relevant regulations.” It’s against this background that Scott McLeod and McLeod Cranes have been developing and systemising a number of
new, highly practical, highly relevant crane guidelines in conjunction with the Crane Association of New Zealand. Two of these have now been adopted. A third is in process. Others will follow.
Scott explains, “We first produced guidelines for the safe use of inertia reels. This was an area in which no regulations or standard procedures were in place, and we could see that people were putting themselves and others in danger through improvised, unsafe procedures, when there is clearly a safer way that could be used in many situations.”
Following these guidelines, which were published immediately by the Crane Association, Scott turned his attention to post-incident procedures — what to do immediately after a crane incident.
He said, “It’s an area where regulations for cranes are tighter than those for other sectors. Usually the regulatory question is, did this incident cause serious harm? With cranes, the question is, could the incident
have caused serious harm? So near misses are reportable, and we could see the value in helping operators learn from near misses and communicate information such as safety alerts etc.” These guidelines too have now been published by the Crane Association for members.
Scott McLeod was recently elected Vice-President of the Crane Association and is currently working on guidelines for the safe use of crane-lifted work platforms.
He explains, “There are many occasions when cranes lift people in fully-enclosed man-cages. As it happens, the current approved code of practice does not cater for this. Not because it’s unsafe, but simply because there is no guidance in place. With well-thought-out guidelines, we can ensure these lifts and others adhere to best practice.”
In its own operations too, McLeod Cranes walks the talk. Unusually, if not unique in the industry, the company operates a comprehensive, digital operational platform, vWorksApp, guiding the safety and efficiency of every crane. With all operators having iphones, full visual and other technical information passes
between dispatchers and operators in real time.
In 2012, the company were winners in the Safeguard New Zealand Health & Safety Awards for their internal guidelines for the safe transport of tubular objects. With customers such as Contact Energy and Mighty River Power adopting these guidelines, they’re fast becoming industry standards.
This year, the company’s ‘lite lift plan’ brought a finalist position in the same Awards. McLeod is currently also a finalist for Leadership in Health & Safety in the Construction Health & Safety Awards.
Scott sums up, “We are resolute in our objective of safety leadership in our sector. Our customers expect this of us. And leadership means breaking new ground, not just in our own business but for the sector as a whole. It’s about professionalism. There’s a rigorous new health and safety environment coming, and we’re determined that we and our industry will be up to the mark in every way possible.”
Published in the September 2013 Edition of The New Zealand Tenders.