The recent crane incident in Sydney has led WorkCover NSW to issue a safety alert to advise officers and workers about the risk of fires breaking out when tower cranes are used for the sites operations.

Watch the video below of the incident in Sydney that prompted WorkCover NSW to issue the alert:


As you can tell from the video, the results could have been devastating. Luckily no one was injured in the surrounding area and the crane operator also managed to make it out in one piece. Some good has come from the incident in that crane safety around Oz has come under the spotlight, forcing companies and operators to tighten their safety measures.

WorkCover NSW joined in the concern over crane safety in Sydney and has issued this safety alert to warn workers, operators and others of the potential dangers of working with cranes.

The investigation into the incident found that a number of factors have contributed to incident. The aim of the safety alert according to WorkCover is to provide advice on inspections and possible modifications to control the risks.

The information below provided by WorkCover on their website is for both diesel hydraulic cranes and electric tower cranes:

During a fire on the machine deck of a diesel/hydraulic powered luffing tower crane the luff rope failed, allowing the jib to collapse onto the worksite below. Fortunately there were no injuries as the worksite had been evacuated and the jib fell into the evacuated worksite, rather than into a populated area.

The incident appears to have resulted from the fire heating the luff rope and weakening it to the point where it could no longer support the jib and consequently failed. The fire could have been fuelled by the diesel fuel or the hydraulic fluid used to power the crane motions, however at this stage the ignition source has not been identified.


There are a number of potential contributing factors on the machine deck to the fire starting and then continuing for sufficient time to damage the rope.

  • Quantities of combustible liquid, diesel and hydraulic fluid, in tanks and being pumped in high pressure lines and hoses.
  • A diesel engine which provides a number of potential ignition sources.
  • An electrical system which provides a number of potential ignition sources.
  • A diesel engine and hydraulic pump and motors whose failure could result in a loss of significant quantities of combustible liquid.

Read more:

WorkCover went on to suggest that employers responsible for crane use ensure risks to the health and safety of workers (as well as visitors to the site or surrounding it) is minimised as much as possible.

In addition to the safety measures regarding crane operations in particular, the alert also warned employers and principal contractors about the importance of a site evacuation plan and the need for effective communication systems in order to have safe evacuations.

Principal contractors should review their site evacuation plans and communication systems and revise them if necessary. Also the law requires principal contractors to test all emergency procedures to ensure they are efficient.

You can read all the safety measures proposed by WorkCover on their website


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