Crane operation to be safer with use of technology and new MOM guidelines

Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad (foreground) during a demonstration of stability control system, which can detect the position of outriggers and compute the safe operating zone for cranes. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF MANPOWER

SINGAPORE - Increasing the use of technology alongside new workplace health and safety guidelines should make crane operations safer, said Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad on Wednesday (Jan 15).

The number of crane-related dangerous occurrences has fallen from 21 cases in 2009 to eight last year but Mr Zaqy said more needs to be done: "Companies should leverage on technology to create safer work environments.

"The main cause of over half of the lorry crane-related dangerous occurrences from 2015 to 2019 was due to the outriggers not fully extended and deployed, resulting in the cranes toppling."

He added that technology like stability control systems can detect the position of outriggers and compute the safe operating zone. If an operator tries to extend the lorry crane beyond the safe zone, the system will intervene and bring it back to safety.

Six government agencies - the Housing and Development Board, JTC Corporation, Land Transport Authority, MOH Holdings, National Parks Board and the Public Utilities Board - have agreed to adopt tender requirements for new and existing lorry cranes to be installed with such stability control systems.

They will ensure that cranes use the system at all work sites by specifying it in procurement documents by June 1. They will also get lorry crane operators and lifting personnel to attend familiarisation programmes and push industry partners to adopt this system or other technology to make crane use safer.

Mr Zaqy also announced that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has developed a set of practices for companies to be more robust in using data loggers, which record crane operations.

This includes reviewing data from the loggers regularly to identify critical events such as the overloading and bypassing of safety devices and compiling a report of such events and taking appropriate action.

Mr Zaqy told the Workplace Safety and Health Symposium on Cranes on Wednesday: "Such data allows work site occupiers and crane owners to establish root causes of incidents accurately so that companies can better plan and manage their lifting operations safely."

All mobile cranes in Singapore have been equipped with data loggers since August 2018.

The MOM and the Workplace Safety and Health Council will also launch two new sets of guidelines covering the safe use of lorry cranes and incidents that require heavy lifting.

Mr Zaqy said these will deepen the industry's risk management capabilities and follow a spate of workplace fatalities in November last year which resulted in safety time-outs at 54 sites.

The council and the Singapore Institution of Safety Officers will also launch a pilot run of a two-day clinic for safe lifting in July in which 20 officers will undergo a course to upskill and provide safety advice to small and medium-sized enterprises that own or use lorry cranes.

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