S09 ORME 7 2016 Heavy Equipment_Layout 1 26/10/2016 10:58 Page 40
Sunset skyline of construction cranes amongst office tower skyscrapers in Dubai, the Middle East centre of trade.. (Photo: Lazyllama/Shutterstock)
equipment Ensuring safe placing of heavy equipment is the primary duty of all crane operators working in the oil, gas and petrochemical industries. Bob Adams looks at some of the best sources of assistance
OCAL ENERGY INDUSTRIES have usually been ahead of building contractors in terms of the safety of their heavy lifting operations. Mobile equipment is more likely to be used in this sector than tower cranes, too. But after a number of recent high-profile accidents (e.g. in Mecca a year ago, a major incident involving a large mobile in bad weather) standards expected in general construction have risen. So the gap is being rapidly closed. Two major categories of hazard are faced by operators of heavy lifting equipment. The first is collapse of the device or its components themselves due to overloading or poor planning, set-up and control. The second is of the load being dropped. Serious problems can also arise due to contact with overhead power cables, and personnel or other equipment/structures being struck by a moving load. Whenever a crane is brought on site the responsibility for planning, supervising and carrying out all its operations are borne by the actual user. All heavy lift operations need to be planned in the light of foreseeable risks so that they can be completed safely by a qualified operator and supervisor working together. This plan needs to cover all identifiable risks and the resources and procedures that will be needed to mitigate them. Various industry standards set out
Issue 7 2016
the way that management of all heavy lifts must be carried out within the energy industries; details of local safety specialists such as Euro Gulf and World Crane Services can be found within general lists like Etisalat’s current Yellow Pages, and specialised industry directories.
All heavy lift operations need to be planned in the light of foreseeable risks so that they can be completed safely by a qualified operator and supervisor working together.” Once the lifting plan is complete all stages of implementation must be carried out with a wide margin of safety; complex movements such as of pressure vessels and tanks will need a written or on-screen checklist procedure that has been made available in understandable (e.g. audio visual) form to all persons involved. Key elements of this will include site and equipment selection and preparation, signalling arrangements, measures being taken to prevent unauthorised movement of
the equipment, and adequate measures to ensure the safety of all personnel present, including those not involved in the actual lift itself. Once underway the operations must be closely supervised all the time. The supervisor needs to be both qualified and experienced, supplied with full authority to halt the procedure without penalty if danger or unforeseen risks are encountered. Finally all the equipment used, including wire ropes and replaceable slings, must be properly examined both before and after the operation. Use of a crane hire company is more likely in the case of an oil/gas operation than in general construction where high and heavy lifts are taking place all the time, and this duty is usually accepted by their own personnel. Nevertheless it is the user’s responsibility to ensure this is actually done. Written records of all maintenance and inspection operations will certainly be needed by the site’s management team; they may be required by local enforcement authorities too, including in challenging offshore environments. So where can specific advice on largescale lifting operations be found? In the tower crane sector one of the best freeonline sources is the current CECE/FEM* Guideline on What is a safe tower crane? This draws on consolidated experience from national schemes overseas such as BGG in Germany and LOLER/PUWER (UK).