Roles and responsibilities when hiring or using a mobile crane
This document provides a summary of the duties of relevant persons involved in the hire and use of mobile cranes.
This document provides a summary of the duties of relevant persons involved in the hire and use of mobile cranes. Relevant persons include:
- person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) involved in the hire of mobile cranes (referred hereafter as PCBU). For example, site supervisors and persons with management or control (PWMC) of a workplace
- mobile crane suppliers
- mobile crane operators.
Talking about safety requirements and discussing responsibilities at the time of hire will help to meet your Work Health and Safety (WHS) obligations.
PCBUs have multiple duties under the WHS legislation. In relation to mobile cranes PCBUs must make sure the crane is, so far as reasonably practicable, without risks to the health and safety of any person when the mobile crane is in operation at their site.
While PCBUs will usually contract others to carry out many specific tasks, such as lifts by mobile cranes, they still retain the overall duty. Under the WHS legislation a duty holder cannot transfer their duties to another person via contract or agreement (refer to Section 272 of the WHS Act).
The PCBU should obtain relevant documentation from the mobile crane supplier and have it readily available on site for verification by the HSR, SafeWork inspector, etc. Specific documentation may be required depending on the type of crane and site-specific requirements, but should at least include:
- Pre-operation activities:
- design and item registration (if applicable)
- crane crew high risk work licences and induction records
- site-specific safe work method statements (SWMS) for the proposed lifts.
- Ongoing crane maintenance and modification documentation:
- daily inspection checklists.
- mobile crane log book with evidence of:
- routine maintenance
- breakdown maintenance including repairs
- periodic inspections
- records of any modifications and relevant approvals (as required).
The PCBU should also ensure the operators manual and load charts specific to the crane are available to the operator.
When engaging high risk work licence (HRWL) holders, such as, mobile crane operators, doggers and riggers for the first time, a higher level of scrutiny should be applied. Close supervision of the HRWL holder should be undertaken until confident of their abilities. The PCBU should consider the following:
- Confirm they hold the appropriate, and current HRW licence
- Check authenticity of the licence, if any doubt exists, contact the issuer of the licence for verification. Some issuers provide for online checks – https://www.licencecheck.nsw.gov.au/s/
- Confirm that the individual is competent to perform the work. This may include trial operation of the crane on site or additional oversight/ supervision until confident of the individual’s level of competency.
The PCBU is also responsible for coordination of the lifting operations in consultation with the crane crew and other PCBUs involved in the lift or work being undertaken at the workplace. Responsibilities include:
- providing the mobile crane supplier with information on what you want lifted and where the lift is to occur, to ensure the appropriate crane is supplied
- ensuring the site is adequately prepared to accommodate the crane in its required configuration without impacting on existing structures, underground assets or the safety of workers and others
- consulting with the mobile crane operator and dogger once the mobile crane arrives at the workplace to coordinate the lifting activities and establish roles, responsibilities and exclusion zones
- ensuring all PCBUs and workers are inducted before they start work at the workplace
- obtaining the appropriate approvals for crane operations, such as; road occupancy licence or letter of advice from asset owners when working near overhead powerlines. If mobile crane is to be operated in close proximity to overhead powerlines, evidence of training for operators and spotters should be available.
A PCBU must not require the mobile crane crew to perform a lift that the mobile crane operator, dogger or rigger considers to be unsafe.
Mobile crane supplier
The mobile crane supplier must ensure that only persons with the appropriate HRW licence operate the mobile crane. They should also ensure that the mobile crane operator has undergone familiarisation and refresher training as required.
It is the responsibility of the mobile crane supplier to provide safety related information to the PCBU/hirer to ensure the appropriate crane is supplied. They must:
- obtain design and item registration from the WHS regulator, if applicable
- ensure that the mobile crane manufacturer’s operating manual is kept with the crane or is readily available to the crane crew
- arrange for all persons involved in the mobile crane operations to be trained on the instructions outlined in the manufacturer’s operating manual
- ensure that the mobile crane is maintained and inspected by a competent person in accordance with the manufacturer’s requirements
- define roles and responsibilities for all persons involved in operation of the mobile crane
- review crane operation data, where possible, to ensure the crane is being operated in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Mobile crane operator
The mobile crane operator must always be diligent and ensure the mobile crane is operated safely. If the mobile crane operator has reason to believe that a lift may be unsafe, the mobile crane operator must not undertake the lift until the risks have been managed, so far as reasonably practicable and safe conditions confirmed.
Mobile crane operators are required to know:
- the model of the mobile crane they are operating, its characteristics, functions and limitations
- the relevant information in the mobile crane’s operating manual
- the mobile crane’s limits and how to read the load chart to calculate or determine the mobile crane’s rated capacity in each relevant configuration
- inspection and maintenance procedures to be followed in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations
- how to identify any workplace conditions that may affect the mobile crane’s operation or stability, such as the presence of overhead powerlines, nearby structures, underground assets, soft ground or other items of plant that may also be on site.
Before and during the mobile crane operation the mobile crane operator, together with other crew members, must:
- work together to plan the lift safely
- complete the daily inspection checklist and fill out the mobile crane log book
- check that there are no unauthorised persons involved in the lift
- inspect the area and monitor the ground condition
- ensure each lift is safely performed.
The mobile crane operator must not leave the mobile crane operator controls unattended. Before leaving the mobile crane, the operator must make sure:
- all loads and lifting equipment are removed from the hook or dedicated lifting device
- the crane hook is raised to a position where it is clear of other operations
- the mobile crane’s power is turned off and the cabin locked
- the crane is put in its out of service condition.
The mobile crane operator must remain in control of the crane during operation. The crane operator should not perform a dual role (such as slinging loads) whilst the crane is in operation.
Work Health and Safety Act 2011 Sections 20-26 for specific information on the duties of persons who design, manufacture, import, supply, install, own and manage items of plant.
Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 Part 3.1 for specific information on managing risks to health and safety.
Safe Work Australia Guide on Cranes
Safe Work Australia Guide to Mobile Cranes
Safe Work Australia Guide to Inspecting and Maintaining Cranes