Crane operation is a critical aspect of construction and heavy lifting industries, and safety always takes precedence. The operation of cranes is highly regulated in the UK, with strict compliance with Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER). These regulations are in place to ensure that crane operations are conducted safely and efficiently, regardless of the weather conditions.
Understanding Weather Impact on Crane Operation
Weather conditions play a crucial role in crane lifting safety. While it might seem like common sense to halt crane operations in extreme weather, the pressure to meet project deadlines can instigate bad decision making. Meteorological conditions can change rapidly, and it’s essential to recognise when it’s time to suspend crane operations.
The LOLER Approved Code of Practice and Guidance clearly states that crane operations in the open air should be halted when weather conditions deteriorate to a point where they could affect the integrity of the lifting equipment or pose risks to individuals involved. Appropriate measures must be in place to minimise risks to personnel.
Extreme Weather Conditions and Mobile Crane Operation Safety
- Strong Winds: Wind tolerance for cranes can vary, but it is generally accepted that cranes should not operate in wind speeds exceeding 16 mph (25.75 km/h). Wind speed monitoring devices are often installed on modern mobile cranes. The height of the boom when extended is a critical factor in assessing the hazard of operating in high winds. The higher the boom, the greater the risk. British Standard BS7121-1:2016 provides specific guidelines for safe crane operation safety standards, including wind limitations.
- Poor Visibility Due to Precipitation or Fog: Clear visibility is imperative for safe crane operation. Crane operators must have a clear view of all potential obstacles, whether stationary or dynamic. Crane operations will not proceed in conditions of reduced visibility. If visibility deteriorates during a crane operation, operators must follow standardised crane lifting safety procedures to halt the operation until conditions improve.
- Cold Weather: While most modern cranes can operate safely in temperatures as low as -15 degrees Celsius, it’s essential to monitor crane performance in freezing conditions. Cold weather can affect the crane’s hydraulic components and require extra care. Additionally, the effects of extreme cold on personnel must be considered, as workers can be at risk of frostbite and hypothermia.
- Rain and Snow: Wet weather can affect mobile crane operation safety by impairing visibility and stability. Regular crane maintenance ensures that cranes are safe to operate in wet conditions. However, heavy rain or snowfall may affect operator visibility, leading to a shutdown until conditions improve. Traction and stability are also critical factors to consider in wet weather.
- Storms and Lightning: Cranes are susceptible to lightning strikes due to their height and should never operate during a storm. The correct protocol includes retracting the crane’s boom, ceasing all operations, and evacuating the surrounding area. Structural damage from lightning strikes requires thorough inspection before the crane can resume operation.
Crane Operator Training and Safety
Crane operators undergo rigorous training to understand crane operation safety standards and the risks associated with adverse weather conditions. They are well-versed in recognising unsafe conditions and adhering to safety protocols. Operator qualifications, such as CPCS, SiteRight and NVQs, ensure that crane operations are conducted safely and efficiently.
Choose Emerson Crane Hire for Your Next Project
Safety is paramount in crane operations, and extreme weather conditions pose unique challenges that must be addressed to ensure the well-being of personnel and the integrity of lifting equipment. Compliance with LOLER and PUWER regulations, as well as adherence to British Standards like BS7121-1:2016, ensures that crane operations are conducted safely.
At Emerson Cranes, we prioritise mobile crane operation safety, regardless of the weather. We provide leading mobile crane hire services in London and surrounding areas. Contact us on 020 8548 3900 to learn more about how we can assist with your next lifting project.