Industry needs to carefully plan its response to the latest crane inspection and assessment guidelines that will bring Australia and New Zealand closer to global standards of risk management, according to Konecranes.
The latest Australian Standard outlining the safe use of cranes includes extensive revision of the inspection and maintenance requirements and the addition of a new section that specifies methods to monitor design duty and introduce the concept of design working period.
The new standards aim to reduce the risk of accidents to people involved in lifting operations and those in their vicinity, as well as damage to property. Key businesses affected by such changes include major industry sectors, including mining and energy, steel making and distribution, manufacturing and metal fabrication processing, ports and shipping, resources infrastructure (including oil and gas) and manufacturing, packaging and paper processing and workshop and heavy maintenance. According to the Konecranes Group, the implications of the provisions of AS 2550.1 (2011) are only now starting to be realised in major industry segments.
Business who use overhead cranes in their day-to-day operations should seek authoritative guidance on understanding and anticipating the changes as they take effect on an ongoing basis, Brad Hyem, managing director of Konecranes (Australia and New Zealand), states.
“Cranes and hoists are one of the most common items of worksite machinery yet they have the potential to be among the most dangerous if they are not properly maintained and safety compliant. So these changes – like similar changes to ISO standards in 2009 – are very welcome and should be clearly understood across the spectrum of industry,” Hyem notes.
Hyem says one of the major areas of change and safety reinforcement focused on by the latest standards relate to consistency and frequency of inspections specified in Standard 2550.1 (2011) 7.3.1. In particular, the latest standard focuses on areas such as:
- pre-operational inspection, which is vital to safety
- routine maintenance and inspection, which is key to reliability
- periodic third-party inspections, which include essential areas of compliance requirements; and
- major inspections of cranes, which have a major bearing on safety, reliability and life cycle cost.
“Some of the changes are subtle, but important, while others – such as the provisions for inspections by qualified third parties – are more substantial and very important to a wide range of businesses wishing to ensure optimum compliance and risk management,” Hyem states.
Another key area of change is the requirement to ascertain the remaining design working period (DWP) according to processes and calculations summarised in a new section (9) of AS2550.1. DWP is then used to determine when a major inspection (and subsequent general overhaul) is due.
This section can have significant implications on maintenance costs because if DWP is not estimated according to the correct process, the design life (and requirement to carry out a major inspection) can be reduced by as much as a third of the crane’s original design life. The only method of duty estimation that does not require DWP to be reduced by a factor of safety is achieved by using a recognised type of recording system.
“Also, close attention needs to be paid to the definition of competent persons for inspections, as spelt out by Clause 1.4.1, and to the requirements for major assessments contained in AS2550.1 and 2550.3. The latter of these says that cranes that have reached the end of their design life shall be assessed to ensure their suitability for continued use. New provisions are introduced to this assessment.
“Interpretation of the standards is an area for experts in the field – there is a clear need for expert and independent guidance in interpretation of such standard provisions and ensuring, where work is needed, that service partners are trained to the appropriate standards required,” Hyem comments.
“Authoritative guidance is essential as many companies are focused on their own production challenges and demands, which absorb their own staff so they have to rely on the best outside specialist guidance they can get for risk management.”