Crane Safety in Construction: 4 Tips for Operating a Crane in Extreme Weather Conditions

Inclement weather can pose serious hazards when you're operating a crane on a construction site. High winds, rain, snow and thunder and lightning are some of the weather conditions that make it unsafe for you to use cranes for lifting operations. Unfortunately, sometimes the nature of your project wouldn't allow downtime during extreme weather. How do you avoid safety risks on the site without suffering too much downtime? Here are some practical tips on how to operate a crane in extreme weather without posing a danger to workers on the site.

Choose the Right Crane for the Weather

There are various types of cranes suitable for varying lifting operations. Some are more stable than others, while others can carry out a variety of tasks. The first step to successful rigging during extreme weather is finding the right machinery for the job. For example, if you're in a season of high winds, you should be wary of using overhead cranes that can easily sway in the wind. Instead, go for sturdier, more robust configurations.

If you're working during the rainy or snowy season, avoid vehicle-mounted cranes with minimal stability. For example, a truck-mounted crane may not be the best choice, as it can easily lose balance due to the wet and uneven ground. In this case, a crawler crane would be a better option because of its unrivalled stability, even on treacherous sites. All-terrain cranes would also be a brilliant solution. 

Stay Up-to-Date With Weather Forecasts

Working on a construction project during inclement weather doesn't mean you should plan for rigs during the worst time of the day. Just because there will be rain doesn't mean it will occur the entire day. Thus, you can plan rigging jobs for times when the weather is better. For this to happen, stay up-to-date with the daily and weekly weather forecasts in your area. Check the Department of Meteorology's website for daily weather updates.

Once you know how the weather may turn out for the next few days or weeks, you can plan your crane hire and rigging operations around this information. Try to undertake lifting jobs when the weather is mild to avoid the risk of being caught up in extreme conditions. If the forecast isn't accurate, you can schedule the task for another day.

Evaluate Safety Protocols

Crane operations can pose serious hazards on a construction site. These include:

  • Injury and property damage from falling loads
  • Injury and property damage from swaying crane booms
  • Electrocution after contact with power lines
  • Property damage due to crane overturning 

Every year, there are over 240 injury claims associated with crane accidents in Australia. Working during inclement weather only increases the risk of these accidents. Thus, it's crucial to reduce the risk by evaluating safety protocols before each rigging operation. Some protocols to adhere to include:

  • Inspect cranes and rigging equipment before each job
  • Deploy stabilisers to protect cranes from overturning
  • Adhere to load charts to prevent crane overloading
  • Examine ground conditions to determine the safety of rigs
  • Provide and inspect workers' PPE before each lifting job

Remember to train all workers on safety procedures for working with and around cranes. For example, all people present on the site should avoid working or walking under a moving crane. All workers should wear hard hats to prevent injury if a load falls off the rig. Also, the crane should only be operated by a professional to avoid incorrect operation.

Prepare to Terminate Operations

Finally, not every day is a rigging day. Operating in extreme weather can be a risky affair. Therefore, if all conditions point towards a dangerous job, it's best to end operations and wait for the weather to improve. If the weather worsens mid-operation, you should also be prepared to call off the job and protect the workers. Thus, it's paramount for you to have a supervisor on-site to oversee the work.

Operating a crane during extreme weather can be risky. Thus, follow these tips to prevent injuries and property damage.