Avoiding hot weather hazards for safe crane operations in summer

As a leading crane hire company, we see the demand for our quality lifting machinery increase significantly over the summer and early autumn months.

Summer means that sites, equipment, and workforces won’t be exposed to extremely cold temperatures or difficult working conditions, such as heavy rain or high winds. As a result, the activity on many construction projects heats up with the weather. 

However, summer is not without its safety risks on sites where crane operations are required. Although freezing temperatures, torrential rain, or strong winds may pose a range of construction crane safety concerns, hotter weather can also lead to unique hazards on site…

Safe crane operations in summertime

UK-based project managers may look forward to the more predictable weather conditions experienced in the warmer months. 

Summer brings its own specific set of risks, so safety precautions in warm weather are just as important. The impact of hotter weather must be taken into account, when planning safe crane operations.

Crane risk assessment for hot weather

In compliance with Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) 1998, all lifts should be planned and carried out safely with a full risk assessment before any work takes place.

The crane risk assessment sets out to identify potential hazards when operating a crane. When working at height, there are several summer-related issues that need to be considered, including:

  • excessive heat or summer thunderstorms – check forecasts for severe weather conditions
  • whether equipment is impacted by high temperatures or needs to be stored in shade (see below)
  • nearby dangers that may be present, such as overhead power lines, and how these might be impacted by hot weather conditions

It is important that everyone on site is aware of the potential hazards that may impact crane safety, and actively takes steps to avoid any risks. 

With our popular Contract Lift Crane Hire service, we will care of your lift, from creating a crane safety plan to executing the lift itself. Our experienced appointed person will carry out a thorough site inspection and conduct a crane risk assessment. We will also provide all necessary personnel, including a crane supervisor, crane operator, and slinger/signaller.

The impact of hot weather on construction crane safety 

UV exposure and heat can severely damage some components of a crane, so we would recommend parking the crane so that it’s not facing the sun or directly exposed to UV rays. A tarpaulin that is heavy-duty, fire-resistant and waterproof may be useful in protecting cranes while they aren’t in use, during summer.

Other risks can be particular to your site in summer. For example, very dusty environments may limit operator and worker visibility, or hardened ground may crack and lead to instability. 

Identifying summer hazards in crane operation

It is the responsibility of the site’s manager to ensure that onsite health and safety regulations are followed. For anyone working on site during hot weather, it is important to adhere to health and safety recommendations to maintain physical wellbeing.

It is especially important that crane operators remain mindful of the physical effects of hot weather and how this can impact their ability to control heavy machinery.

Onsite teams must be aware of their risk of: 

  • heat exhaustion and/or heatstroke
  • dehydration
  • sunburn

To counteract these risks, workers must take regular breaks in the shade, stay hydrated, and wear sunscreen.

Appropriate PPE for safe crane operations

If temperatures soar, onsite teams may be tempted to forgo critical items of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) in order to stay cool. For example, they might remove harnesses, hi-vis vests, hardhats, or gloves. PPE is intended to keep construction workers and onsite teams safe in the event of an accident, so removing this will increase the risk of injury. 

Besides standard PPE, workers should wear protective sunglasses or hats to shade their eyes from the sun.

Maintenance for construction crane safety in extreme heat

It is essential for cranes and lifting equipment to be properly maintained all year round: a poorly maintained crane may be dangerous in extreme heat. 

Here at Emerson Cranes, we are proud to have earned a reputation for excellence by upholding all crane safety guidelines. We ensure that our fleet is maintained and checked to the highest standard, for reliable and safe crane operation.

Before any of our fleet leaves our premises, coolant and hydraulic fluid levels are checked and topped up. If a machine is onsite for days or weeks, our driver/operator will check fluid levels daily. While onsite, we also check wires, reservoirs etc for wear and tear. 

However, regardless of maintenance, extremely hot weather can affect cranes in the following ways: 

  • seals – seals may be softened, reducing their effectiveness and increasing the risk of leaks or failure
  • overheating – a crane is potentially at risk if operating for hours in 30°+ temperatures
  • excessive airborne dust – dust can coat hydraulic pistons and get into air filters

These factors can impact performance, and this could lead to compromised construction crane safety.

Speak to the construction crane safety experts

Here at Emerson Cranes, we take health and safety extremely seriously – it is our central company value. We hope this article has helped in identifying the main summer hazards in crane operation, and will allow you to beat any heat wave and continue to operate safely on site. 

Whether you need a high quality crane for your next project, or you would like some expert health and safety advice, we are here to help. Contact a friendly member of our team today on 020 8059 2560. We look forward to hearing from you.