Expert group to look into safety of lorry cranes

A lorry crane toppled over on April 4, 2016, at Hougang Street 21, dropping its load of steel plates on the road. The crane operator was slightly injured in the incident.
A lorry crane toppled over on April 4, 2016, at Hougang Street 21, dropping its load of steel plates on the road. The crane operator was slightly injured in the incident. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - A panel of experts will study ways to improve the safety of lorry cranes, which are involved in 30 per cent of all crane-related accidents in Singapore.

The workgroup was set up after the increasing number of "dangerous occurrences" involving such cranes, which are cranes mounted on trucks or lorries.

Of the 26,500 cranes registered with the Ministry of Manpower, 3,500 are lorry cranes.

Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan, announcing the setting up of the workgroup on Thursday (Oct 27) at the annual Crane Safety Symposium, noted that lorry cranes are widely used in public areas - on public roads and in residential areas - as they are smaller and need less space to manoeuvre.

"While lorry cranes may seem to pose a lower risk than bigger cranes, they in fact can cause significant damage to property and endanger lives," said Mr Tan at the event held at the Building and Construction Authority Academy.

A review operator training and safe practices will be carried out by the workgroup, which will announce its findings in six months, he said.

The workgroup was one of three recommendations by the National Crane Safety Task Force, set up in 2009 to look into the issue of safety after a spate of crane-related accidents.

The taskforce also recommended using surge protective devices in tower cranes to prevent fires in the event of a lightning strike, and installing data-loggers on cranes so employers can track if operators are using the machinery safely.

Yesterday, Mr Tan said there were 17 "crane-related dangerous occurrences" - incidents that endangered lives, such as a fire striking a crane or a crane collapse - in the first nine months of this year.

One worker died and eight were injured as a result.

Last year, there were 22 such incidences resulting in 11 workers being injured. There were no fatalities.

"Investigations revealed that poor maintenance of cranes and unsafe practices adopted in the lifting operations were the two main causes," said Mr Tan, urging companies and workers to adhere to safety standards and protocols.

He urged companies to keep their cranes well-maintained and to ensure crane operators are well-trained.