Wherever there are mechanised lifting operations there is a multitude of potential safety risks and the damage and injuries from accidents will vary widely based on the working application. The biggest risks are generally found in ports, where the potential for knock-on costs, like ship delays, can be huge.

Some lifting operations may be said to be lightweight in risk factors, as in mobile, elevated work platforms (MEWPS) but even here it would be advisable when hiring them to consider the safety angles and use reliable suppliers to seek expert advice to get the right MEWP for the application.

Thoroughly experienced suppliers in this field, like Briggs Equipment, will give expert advice on indoor and outdoor use and will instruct their delivery drivers to familiarise operators with the equipment, though it still remains the hirer’s responsibility to ensure anyone using a MEWP is properly qualified and fit to use it.

Many warehouses, however, use a wide variety of lifting equipment to interface with forklifts, like jib cranes, mezzanine lifts, scissor lifts, hoists and EOTs and while, as with forklifts, they fall under LOLER and PUWER legislation, to try to keep track of the many different equipment requirements, their safety procedures and after-sales servicing can be an administrative nightmare. If so, it would make sense to consider using a onesource partner to handle all these issues to ensure legal compliance.

Many accidents still occur because cranes are not given the priority they deserve as highly complex pieces of machinery. Moreover, owners and operators’ efforts to reduce costs during financially fraught times can negatively impact maintenance regimes and the proactive overhaul of critical machinery items. This is particularly concerning in ports’ lifting operations, which prompted the HSE to produce a paper that deals with recommendations on issues of routine maintenance and thorough examinations and testing of lifting equipment in that sector.

Investigations of port accidents that included reach stackers as well as all varieties of cranes gives rise to wider concerns about the suitability of the equipment and the way in which it is used, examined and maintained. Manufacturers and suppliers of equipment certainly have duties under the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations of 2008 to ensure that the machinery is safe and under the Health and Safety at Work Act (section 6) and to ensure as far as is reasonably practical that an article is designed and constructed to be safe without risks to health at all times, when it is being set, used, cleaned or maintained. But the fact is it is often user abuse and neglect behind lifting accidents.

Among the most common causes of Marine crane failures are: 1) wire failures, which can be ascribed to overloading, fatigue, having a preexisting defect, or suffering from deterioration. 2) Slew bearings. If these are not properly specified for their required service use, maintained correctly and looked after in service then over time their failure can be catastrophic. 3) Sheaves. These should have their bearings greased on a regular basis and not overly rely on remote greasing systems which may fall into disrepair. 4) Mishandling. The actions of crane operators, usually stevedores, should be monitored and controlled by those on board. 5) Maintenance misconceptions. Manufacturers can describe a number of key cane components as “maintenance free” but crane failures have been caused by such components and so require periodic overhaul.