Health and Safety (H&S) can feel like a complicated subject… because it is. As an employer you’re required to abide by a wealth of rules and regulations in order to keep your workers safe, and avoid incredibly harsh – and in some cases business-threatening – penalties.
The stakes are particularly high for businesses that operate cranes. When working with heavy machinery, at height, on often busy worksites, the potential dangers are both numerous and acute. As such, crane operators have more H&S concerns than most other businesses, which means that for the uninitiated, confusion can reign.
In this article we’ll clear up some of this regulatory confusion, by providing crane operators and engineers with guidance on the crane regulations that might apply to your operations, the documentation you need to have, and a few tips to help you comply with all the rules.
What crane regulations apply in New Zealand?
Two main pieces of legislation regulate the operation of cranes in New Zealand:
- Health and Safety at Work Act 2015: The updated version of the Health and Safety in Employment (HSE) Act 1992, this legislation describes principles, duties and rights in relation to workplace health and safety in New Zealand.
- Pressure Equipment, Cranes, and Passenger Ropeways (PECPR) Regulations 1999: This piece of legislation is designed to apply HSE to cranes (as well as pressure equipment and passenger ropeways).
Between the length and the healthy dollop of legalese, legislation like the examples above can prove impenetrable for the average reader. Thankfully WorkSafe, the workplace health and safety regulator, has developed codes of practice that put this legislation in more functional and easily digestible terms.
What codes of practice should crane operators work from?
There are three main codes of practice that you need to be aware of:
This document describes the general operational and upkeep requirements of working with cranes in New Zealand. Over the course of 125 pages it covers:
- The duties of crane designers, manufacturers and suppliers.
- Operational requirements for controllers and operators.
- The functions of equipment inspectors and inspector bodies.
- Mobile, tower, self-erecting, gantry, truck loader, tractor and overhead crane regulations and requirements.
This code of practice more or less forms the bible for New Zealand crane lifting regulations, and it is critical that owners and operators are familiar with it.
This document focuses less on the crane itself, and more on how it’s used, particularly in terms of the specialised lifting equipment used for different lifts. It covers:
- General crane safety.
- The correct use of crane lifting equipment, including rope, fittings, sheaves, blocks and rigging.
If an operator is not complying with this code during a lift and an accident occurs, the consequences, both in terms of worker safety and potential punishments, can be severe.
If you own and operate tower cranes or boom, scissor or spider lifts, you must also be aware of the regulations that surround working at heights. This best practice document includes:
- Elimination, isolation and minimisation controls for height hazards.
- Duty holder responsibilities.
While these three documents form the core of crane best practice guidelines, there may be other codes of practice that you need to follow that cover more specialised work you undertake and equipment you operate.
What standards apply to the manufacture of cranes?
If you’re purchasing a crane or piece of lifting equipment, you need to ensure that it is manufactured to the correct standards. If it isn’t, you won’t be able to use it in New Zealand, and you’ll pour your money down the drain.
The standards that apply to the manufacture of cranes used in New Zealand include:
- AS 1418 for cranes, hoists and winches
- AS 4991 for lifting devices
- AS 1891 for industrial fall-arrest systems and devices
- AS 2359 for powered industrial trucks
5 tips to ensure crane regulation compliance
How do ensure that the words written in the regulatory documents above transform into compliance on the ground? Here are a few tips that can help you to achieve crane regulation compliance.
1. Understand your responsibilities
To meet the requirements you first need to know the requirements. Work to digest the codes of practice listed above, then make all team members, from supervisors to crane operators to riggers, aware of their responsibilities.
Ultimate responsibility for compliance falls on business leaders, which means that you may be culpable for any incidents that occur due to non-compliance. As such, you need to continually drive the process forward from the top.
2. Audit your procedures
Are your crane and lifting policies and procedures fit for purpose? While they may have been compliant on the day that they were implemented, H&S regulations change and evolve, so if you haven’t changed a procedure in a while, it may no longer be compliant.
The only way to know whether your policies are current and compliant is to conduct an audit of each one. Compare it to the relevant ‘operation of crane’ regulation and code of practice to ensure it aligns and is up to date. Once you give a procedure the tick, make it easily accessible to all team members. Consider displaying posters or signs prominently in key areas.
3. Invest in safety
Safety is one of the most critical investments a business can make. Committing money to physical items that make your workplace and crane safer and investing in safety training and accreditations for your workers can be thought of as cheap insurance, as it minimises the chances of your business being negatively affected by an incident.
It also makes workers safer, reduces the likelihood of non-compliance, and shows your team you care about them.
4. Aim for more than compliance
The word ‘compliance’ conjures images of a box to be ticked, or a bare minimum to be achieved. But workplace safety is far too important a subject to be brushed over or minimised in this way. The safest workplaces – which can subsequently be the happiest and most productive workplaces – always keep safety front of mind.
Take a proactive approach to crane safety. Work to create a space where your team is comfortable raising potential issues, like a regular safety meeting. Train your team on best practices. Treat compliance as a starting point, not an end point.
5. Get help from professionals
Every crane business is different, which can make general compliance advice of limited use. All of the tips above – understanding your responsibilities, auditing, making investments and achieving safety beyond compliance – are far easier when you have help from an expert.
Work with a consultant who can advise you on exactly what your regulatory responsibilities are, and who in your business should shoulder each. Get guidance on how to enhance safety beyond compliance, and where you should direct your energies moving forward.
Enabling New Zealand businesses to work smarter, quicker and safer
At Stratalign we’ve built a reputation for providing businesses with material handling equipment that drives business growth. Our cranes and lifting solutions are all built to exacting standards, and tick every regulatory box.
Once you’ve secured your machine, our team will provide the after-sales support that will ensure you comply with all New Zealand crane regulations. Our goal is to help you to work smarter, quicker, and most importantly, safer, allowing you to make more money, while also protecting your most valuable asset: your people.
If you’re looking to invest in a crane, but feel overwhelmed about navigating the rules and regulations that come with it, get in touch with our expert team today for a no-obligation consultation and quote.