The colder months present various challenges for construction workers, ranging from reduced visibility to heightened winds. As temperatures plummet, steel becomes more brittle, reducing the capacity of steel cranes and hoist equipment.
Consequently, when facing extreme weather conditions, it’s crucial for workers to take the time to evaluate risks, streamline operations and implement the relevant precautionary measures.
Although developers typically aim to schedule major projects during the summer months, there are instances where this is not feasible.
As a leading crane and lifting equipment hire company, at Total Lifting Services, we understand just how difficult it can be to operate mobile cranes during the winter. In this article, we outline the complexities of lifting operations in cold weather, sharing precautionary advice for ensuring mobile crane safety in winter.
How Does Extreme Weather Affect Mobile Crane Operation Safety?
We’re all too familiar in the UK with harsh winters and freezing temperatures.
While cranes are designed to lift and move substantial loads, the extent to which they can resist winds, rain, snow and other extreme weather conditions will vary depending on the model.
The types of extreme weather that can impact mobile crane safety in winter include:
- Low Temperatures
If temperatures are too cold, a crane’s hydraulic system may slow down. In addition, extreme cold conditions can reduce the crane’s structural tensile strength and cause the steel to become dangerously brittle.
As a precautionary measure, it’s advisable for operators to decrease their loads by 25% in subzero temperatures.
- Heavy Rain
Most lifting operations can go ahead as planned when it’s raining. However, heavy rain can make it difficult for operators to see clearly, severely impairing visibility and stability. This poses a risk of accidents and increases the likelihood of errors during lifting operations.
- High Winds
When operating in strong winds, a crane will use some of its loading capacity to withstand the force, consequently diminishing its overall effectiveness.
All equipment manufacturers provide recommendations on maximum wind speeds that should be adhered to. Just because winds don’t feel incredibly harsh doesn’t mean there aren’t strong gusts higher in the air. To ensure optimum safety, wind speed should be constantly monitored, particularly during the colder months.
If you detect a rapid change in temperature or wind speeds, it’s best to ensure all cranes are immediately lowered and operations are halted until the weather has stabilised.
- Snow, Sleet and Ice
Conducting mobile crane operations in snowy, sleety and icy conditions heightens the risk of slips, trips and falls. Furthermore, any snow or ice that has accumulated on crane equipment can disrupt lifting operations, adding weight and potentially causing capacity issues.
Severe fog can significantly hinder drivers’ visibility, making it difficult for them to accurately conduct a lift.
Crane operators should refrain from proceeding with a lifting operation until the weather conditions improve and visibility is restored.
Mobile Crane Safety Inspection Checklist For the Colder Months
- Warm-Up Cranes Before Use
Before conducting a lift, crane operators should allocate time to warm-up their cranes.
Even on days when the crane is not in use, it is advisable to run it for a certain duration rather than leaving it idle in the cold without being turned on.
- Check Cranes For Ice
Ice can cause your machinery to crack and rust. It also adds weight to the machine. Therefore, it’s a good idea to look over your cranes before use, paying close attention to the brakes, throttle and exhaust.
- Personnel Safety
Crane operators should dress appropriately for cold, wet, snowy or windy weather conditions. Layer up with appropriate clothing, including ear-covering hats, and opt for thick gloves to protect the hands.
- Pay Attention to Battery Life
Cold winter weather can lead to corrosion around a crane’s battery. It’s a good idea to consistently monitor your battery, with a heightened focus during the colder months. Refer to your crane manual for specific guidelines on the recommended frequency for changing the crane’s battery.
- Monitor Conditions
Keep an eye on the weather forecast when scheduling lifting operations. Refrain from scheduling tasks that involve crane usage during periods of high wind speeds, snowy conditions, or extremely wet days.
Mobile Crane Safety is Our Top Priority
If you’re preparing for a winter lifting operation and are in need of a dependable contract lifting provider to manage the task with ease, you’ve come to the right place. Our expert service includes the hire of a crane and an experienced operator, lifting equipment and all the relevant insurance.
Drawing upon years of expertise, our fully-trained professionals are well prepared to navigate even the most challenging weather conditions, conducting a thorough risk assessment before any lift.
Alternatively, if you’re simply looking for first-rate crane hire services, we offer an array of solutions, with an extensive modern fleet of machines to choose from.
Discover more about our expert solutions by reaching out to our team. Call us today on 0208 226 4000 to explore how we can tailor our services to meet your needs.