This safety alert reminds people of the risks associated with working with wire ropes and chains in marine environments, and the actions requires to ensure those risks are eliminated or minimised.


In 2017 an incident occurred when a luffing rope failed on a 210 tonne barge mounted crane failed causing the crane jib to collapse into Sydney harbour.

In January 2018 a main hoist rope failed on a boat hoist at a marina at Newport.

In February 2018 an incident occurred when a trolley rope failed on a portainer crane at Port Botany

In 2018 a further two trolley steel wire ropes and a hoist rope have failed on portainer cranes at Port Botany.

These incidents demonstrate the hazards associated with steel wire ropes in maritime and other adverse environments.

Key considerations

Steel wire ropes require periodic maintenance to ensure that they are in a serviceable condition. Any routine maintenance should be done in accordance with the rope maker’s specifications or in accordance with any requirements as determined by a competent person.

Steel wire rope should be part of a daily routine inspection conducted on the crane to determine if the rope has sustained any damage. Visible damage, especially corrosion, should be noted and be subjected to further analysis.

Action required

Ropes subjected to adverse environments such as salt air, should be more rigorously inspected on a periodic basis which would include lubricating the rope with grease along its entire length. Measuring and noting the diameter of the rope and checking for broken wires, rust, kinks, flattening and any other visual damage.

Serious consideration should also be given to conducting non-destructive examination of the rope to determine no internal damage is occurring that would weaken the rope.

Ensuring the crane is maintained in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions and that the wire rope is compatible with the cranes sheaves.

Ensuring the sheaves on the crane are not damaged, worn, incorrectly aligned and are free running.

Measures for controlled the risk include:

  • ensuring systems are in place for inspection of all steel wire ropes used in a crane.
  • fully adhering to manufacturer’s recommendation for the inspection and replacement of steel wire ropes.
  • ensuring the cranes mechanical components are maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications in particular sheaves.
  • ensuring replacement ropes are in accordance with rope detail plates provided on the crane.
  • ensuring rope inspections and replacement is conducted by competent persons.

Further information

  • Australian Standard 2749
  • ISO Standard 2408.2017
Back to top