Annual inspections an essential ingredient of mobile-crane safety

Doug Younger, WorkSafeBC
February 25, 2019
By Doug Younger, WorkSafeBC
Doug Younger, WorkSafeBC
Doug Younger, WorkSafeBC
Regular inspections and maintenance of mobile cranes and boom trucks is essential to ensuring the safety of operators and workers who are working with and around this equipment.

Employers are responsible under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation and Workers Compensation Act for ensuring the health and safety of all workers on their worksite. Mobile cranes and boom trucks have the potential for catastrophic equipment failure and serious injury or death. From 2009-18, there were 10 serious injuries related to mobile cranes and 12 serious injuries related to boom trucks, and one work-related death.

According to B.C.’s Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 14.71, owners and operators of mobile cranes or boom trucks must have all of the machine’s critical components annually inspected, in accordance with the manufacturer’s requirements and applicable standards, and certified as safe for use by a professional engineer.

“It’s imperative that the structural, mechanical, and control components are included in the annual inspection process,” says Doug Younger, occupational safety officer and member of WorkSafeBC’s provincial crane-inspection team. “If any part of the equipment is not inspected, it can put workers at unnecessary risk.”

In January 2018, WorkSafeBC launched its 2018–20 Crane Initiative, which conducts targeted safety inspections of worksites that use cranes or boom trucks. With officers based in the Lower Mainland, Central Interior, and Vancouver Island, the team inspects cranes and boom trucks all across B.C.

The Crane Initiative is one of 17 high risk strategies and industry initiatives designed to align prevention efforts with specific industries that present a high risk of serious injury to workers. When the crane team visits a worksite, they look at the professional-engineer-certified annual inspection document, maintenance records, the operator’s certification, and — if it’s a boom truck — the stability documents.

“We’re also looking at where the machine is set up and how it’s being used,” Younger says.

Inadequate annual inspections are one of the most-frequent noncompliance issues with crane and boom trucks. While many employers have an annual inspection conducted on the machine’s structural components, not all employers are fulfilling the requirement for annual mechanical and control inspections.

The cost to do a structural, mechanical, and control inspection may be higher up front, but the cost of equipment failure can include injuries, loss of life, lost work-hours, equipment costs, and even administrative penalties or increased insurance premiums.

WorkSafeBC offers a Mobile Crane Inspection Checklist as a resource for employers. The checklist provides specific OHS references for each aspect of safe crane set-up and operation. There is also a crane lift-capacity analysis section, where description and load weights information can be added.

The checklist asks the following questions:
• Is the crane operator certified in British Columbia?
• Is the annual crane inspection current?
• Is the combination crane (boom truck) stability tested?
• Is the manufacturer’s manual in the crane or at the workplace?
• Is the daily crane pre-use inspection complete and documented?
• Can the crane be set up with the outriggers fully extended and set on cribbing?
• Is the lift planned with site-specific circumstances evaluated?

Information on safety devices, maintenance, inspection and repair is also included in the checklist.

Engineers and Geoscientists BC plans to develop professional practice guidelines for annual inspections of mobile equipment in B.C., with funding support from WorkSafeBC. The guidelines are expected to be completed by fall 2019.

For more information and resources, visit the Crane Initiative on worksafebc.com.

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