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Navigating Dangerous Weather: Best Practices for Using Mobile Cranes Safely 

June 2023

Operating a mobile crane is a complex task that demands precision, skill, and the utmost attention to safety. In the face of challenging weather conditions, the risks associated with crane operations are further amplified. From high winds and lightning strikes to heavy rain and storms, dangerous weather can pose significant threats to both personnel and equipment on the job site. 

By understanding the potential consequences and challenges presented by adverse weather, crane operators can proactively prepare and implement effective safety measures. 

The Risks of Operating Mobile Cranes in Dangerous Weather 

When it comes to operating mobile cranes, there are several common dangerous weather conditions that can significantly impact safety and pose risks to both personnel and equipment. For example: 

  1. High Winds: Strong gusts can destabilise a crane by exerting lateral forces on the boom, counterweight, and load. This can lead to a loss of control, tipping, or the crane becoming uncontrollable in windy conditions. 

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  1. Lightning: Mobile cranes are susceptible to lightning strikes due to their height and metal structure. A lightning strike can cause electrical surges, damage control systems, and endanger personnel in proximity to the crane. 


  1. Heavy Rain: Rain can create slippery surfaces on the job site, affecting the stability of the crane's supports and causing the crane to skid or slide. Reduced visibility due to heavy rain can also impede the operator's ability to safely maneuver the crane. 


The potential consequences of ignoring safety precautions in dangerous weather conditions extend beyond immediate harm. Accidents and injuries can result in project delays, increased costs due to equipment damage or repairs, legal liabilities, and reputational damage to the company involved. Moreover, the well-being of personnel should always be a top priority, and neglecting safety measures in hazardous weather conditions puts their lives at risk. 


Preparing for Dangerous Weather Conditions  


Conducting thorough weather assessments is an essential step in preparing for crane operations in dangerous weather conditions. It involves gathering detailed information about the current weather conditions, as well as forecasting the weather for the duration of the planned crane operations. Weather assessments should consider factors such as wind speed, wind direction, temperature, precipitation, lightning activity, and any other relevant weather parameters. 


Crane operators and supervisors should rely on accurate and up-to-date weather reports from reliable sources to make informed decisions. They can access weather information through various means, such as mobile apps, websites, local meteorological services, or by consulting dedicated weather professionals. By analysing the weather conditions, they can determine if it is safe to proceed with crane operations or if adjustments need to be made to ensure the safety of personnel and equipment. 


Two-way radios, mobile phones, or other communication devices should be readily available and accessible to all team members. This enables prompt communication in case of changing weather conditions or emergency situations. Regular checks and tests of communication devices should be conducted to ensure their functionality. 



Implementing Safety Measures During Dangerous Weather 


  • Utilising Anemometers and Other Weather Monitoring Tools 


To accurately measure wind speed and monitor weather conditions during crane operations, the use of anemometers and other weather monitoring tools is highly recommended. An anemometer is a device specifically designed to measure wind speed and can provide real-time data to crane operators and supervisors. By continuously monitoring wind speeds, operators can make informed decisions and take appropriate action when the wind speed approaches or exceeds the set limits. 


  • Ensuring Proper Grounding and Electrical Safety Procedures 


During dangerous weather conditions, such as lightning storms or heavy rain, it is crucial to prioritise electrical safety. Proper grounding procedures must be followed to mitigate the risk of electrical hazards. This includes ensuring that the crane and any other electrical equipment are properly grounded according to industry standards and regulations. 


In addition, electrical components and wiring should be inspected regularly to identify and rectify any potential issues. All electrical connections should be secured and protected from water ingress or damage.  


  • Safely Securing the Crane and Equipment During Adverse Weather 


When faced with adverse weather conditions, it is imperative to safely secure the crane and all equipment to prevent damage and ensure the safety of personnel and bystanders. This involves taking precautions such as retracting the crane boom, lowering the jib, and properly securing all loose equipment and materials. 


Additionally, appropriate measures should be taken to prevent the crane from tipping over or being affected by strong winds. This may include utilising outriggers or stabilisers to increase stability, employing counterweights as recommended by the crane manufacturer, and following specific procedures outlined in the crane's operation manual. 



Training and Education for Crane Operators and Crew  


When it comes to operating mobile cranes, comprehensive training programs play a vital role in ensuring the safety of crane operators and the crew involved in crane operations. It is essential to emphasise the importance of these training programs and provide individuals with the necessary knowledge and skills to operate cranes safely, especially in hazardous weather conditions. 


Comprehensive training programs should cover various aspects, including crane operation techniques, equipment inspection and maintenance, understanding load charts, rigging and signalling procedures, and crucial safety protocols. These programs should be designed to meet industry standards and regulations, taking into account the specific challenges posed by dangerous weather conditions. 



Emergency Preparedness and Response  


With operating mobile cranes, it is crucial to have a well-defined emergency action plan that specifically addresses dangerous weather situations. This plan should outline the necessary steps and procedures to be followed in the event of severe weather conditions, ensuring the safety of personnel and minimising potential risks. 


The emergency action plan should include clear guidelines on how to monitor weather conditions, assess the severity of the situation, and make informed decisions regarding crane operations. It should define the roles and responsibilities of personnel involved in emergency response, designate communication channels, and provide instructions on when and how to evacuate the site if necessary. 


Reliable and Professional Mobile Crane Services 


By implementing the strategies and guidelines discussed in this article, crane operators and construction crews can mitigate risks and ensure the well-being of their team members and equipment. 


At Scope Cranes, we understand the critical importance of safety when it comes to mobile crane operations, especially in challenging weather conditions. As a trusted provider of mobile crane services, we are committed to delivering excellence in every aspect of our work. With our state-of-the-art equipment, experienced operators, and rigorous safety protocols, we are equipped to handle complex projects even in the face of adverse weather. 



Contact us today to discuss your project requirements and experience the difference of working with a reputable and reliable crane service provider. 

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