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Conference Paper · September 2015

DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.4738.5046

3 1,671

3 authors:

Maria Francesca Milazzo Vesna K Spasojević-Brkić

Università degli Studi di Messina University of Belgrade


Giuseppa Ancione
Università degli Studi di Messina


Some of the authors of this publication are also working on these related projects:

Smart Process INdustry CranEs — SPRINCE, SAF€RA ERA-NET View project

Customer satisfaction and ISO 9001 improvement requirements in the supply chain View project

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Maria Francesca Milazzo1, Giuseppa Ancione1, Vesna Spasojevic Brkic2

Dipartimento di Ingegneria Elettronica, Chimica e Ingegneria Industriale (DIECII), Università degli
Studi di Messina, Italy
Faculty of Mechanical Engineering (FME), University of Belgrade, Serbia

Abstract. Moving large and heavy loads in mobile cranes, etc.); however, the highest rate of
manufacturing and construction industries is made incidents is usually associated to the mobile type.
by means of cranes. Until now, much technology has Crane accidents could be more severe if they occur
been developed for these operations, but there are in the chemical process industry and intermodal
significant safety issues to be considered. Cranes transport, where hazardous substances are handling.
are amongst of the most dangerous equipment used As an example, in 2011 an incident occurred in the
in both the industry and construction sites. Despite Orica Chemicals refinery at Kooragang Island, near
the risk awareness, incidents in crane’s operations Newcastle, in New South Wales; this event involved
have not substantially decreased; most of them arise a mobile crane and was due to the overturn of the
from wrong load handlings, poor visibility in moving machine after that one of its outriggers punched
loads, etc. Their dangerousness has special through the ground into some sort of void [16]. In
relevance in the chemical process industry and the such case, the release of dangerous substances could
intermodal transport, where accidental events could also take place and, depending on the characteristics
also generate the release of hazardous substances. of the released substance, the event escalation could
This paper focuses on safety in crane operations, the also generate fires, explosions and toxic dispersions.
main causes of accident will be identified and a Several crane-related incidents are also caused by
statistical analysis is presented with the aim to the contact between the load and objects or other
drawn some conclusions and comment about future equipment; this is mainly due to the limited visibility
trends of research about this issue. for the crane operator. Significant are also incidents
Key words: Industrial safety, Crane accident, Load due to the contact with powerlines [7].
displacement, Human error, Cause of failure. This paper is focused on safety in crane operations:
the first part present the methodology adopted for
1. INTRODUCTION the investigation of incidents, which is based on a
Cranes are widely used in the construction industry short description of the risk factors (hazards or
to move materials, in the transportation to initial cause of accidents) and the identification of
load/unload cargos, in the manufacturing industry to associated accident typologies; the second part gives
assemble heavy equipment, etc. [6]. When installed the results of a statistical elaboration of the collected
and properly used, cranes make operations easier accidents; a brief discussion about the results
and safer. Nevertheless, even if the technology and concludes the work with the aim to comment about
risk awareness have substantially increased, safety future trends of research concerning this issue.
still needs to be improved, as underlined by many
crane-related accidents occurring each year 2. METHODOLOGY
worldwide. To investigate the issue of the safe in crane
A tipped, dropped or mishandled load can directly operations, the adopted methodology starts with the
injure workers or potentially upset the equipment. analysis of main related risk factors and, then, some
Databases show that accidents occur in each crane databases of accidents have been analysed to collect
typology (such as tower cranes, overhead cranes, data and identify the main initial causes of accident.
2.1 Crane safety
s issues  Contact with powerlines
Cranes usee one or more simple machiines to create  Overturns
mechanicall movement foor the displacem ment of loads.  Falls
The load movement iss controlled either e by an  Mechanical failures
operator, placed
p in a cabb that travels along
a with the The caauses of acccidents, listedd above, couuld
crane throuugh a push buttton pendant coontrol station, determinne the followiing main causees of fatality forf
or by radiio type contro ols. The cranee operator is workerss, which werre identified by the CPW WR
ultimately responsible
r forr the safety of the
t crews and (Center for Construction Research an nd Training) [44]:
the crane [13]. Another cause of failuree can be found  Electrocutionn
in crane design
d [2]. Acccording to [5]], crane issue  Struck by craane load
reports shhow that poo or human perrformance is
 Crane collapsse
increased over time as a cause of failure f and it
 Struck by fallling boom
currently accounts
a betweeen 70 and 80 percent of all
There are also severall near misses that
t should haave
detected problems.
p In U.S.
U nuclear industry, the
the poteential to escalaate into inciden
nts that incurrred
human errror rate for very v heavy lo oad transport
massivee damages to bothb human livves and physiccal
accounts 56 % and is lesss than the hum man error rate
propertiies. The maggnitude associated with suuch
observed when
w considerring other craane uses (73
events increases
i with the decrease ofo the number of
T same report [5] gives data for the
percent). The
incidentt according to the
t Bird trianglle [3].
energy secctor, it can be seen that the human error
Table 1-4 summarise the main initiaal causes of fattal
contributioon is about 94% % (the same vaalue has been
accidentts for each cause of fatality listed abovve.
observed in n navy cranes), where impropper operation,
Data reffers to the perriod 1992-2006 6 and have beeen
improper rigging
r and procedure
p faillures account
collected from U.S. Bureau of Laabor Statisticss -
approximattely 88 %.
Census of Fatal Occuppational Injuriees (CFOI) [12].
The trend ofo the poor huuman performaance in period
1969-2002, as a cause of o crane issues, is shown in
Table 1.. Overhead pow
wer lines / Elecctrocutions
Figure 1.
Causess of incident [%
Contact of workers wiith cable 52
Crane operations 2
Contact of worker withh crane 13
Other / unknown
u causees 10

Table 2.. Struck by craane loads

Causess of incident [%
Workerss accidental invvolved in the accident
a 32
(except crane operatorrs)
Workerss flagging/directing/guiding the
t load 14
Loadingg / unloading 32
Crane operations 7
Other crrane-related woork 15
Figure 1. Trends
T of poo
or human perfo formance as a
cause failurre in crane opeerations [5].
Table 3.. Crane collapsses
According to Shapira annd Simcha [8]], which paid Causess of incident [%
special atteention to toweer cranes, human factor is a Uneven / unstable or icy surface 15
dominant factor, affectiing the site safety
s due to Crane caables / rigging / broken stabillisers 14
tower-crane operations,, within which operator Crane looad / boom shifted 9
performancce has the hig ghest weight. This
T has also Overloaaded 12
been confirrmed by the suurvey reported in
i [10]. Other / unknown
u causees 51

2.2 Hazardd types Table 4.. Struck by Fallling Booms

There are multiple hazaards that can arise during Causess of incident [%
cranes’ opperations. Maany accidents involve lift Dismanttling boom 56
systems, suuch as in tower cranes and mobile
m cranes, Broken boom / brokenn boom cable 13
but other hazards do existt by operating with all types Lengtheening boom 9
of cranes and
a in all faceets of crane opperation [15]. Other / unknown
u causees 2
According to the Americcan Federal Agency OSHA
(Occupatioonal Safety and
d Health Adminnistration) the
major causes of cranes-reelated accidentss are [11]:
3. RESULTS 3.1. Future trends of research
The analysis of the available databases allows In order to minimise visual problems, improving
commenting about crane-related accidents. The safety and preventing crane related fatalities and
graphical elaboration, given in Figure 4, highlights injuries, some authors [9] identified the critical
that in a reasonably long period (from 1992 to 2006) characteristics of existing crane cabins linked to the
the number of fatalities in crane-related accidents visibility and the posture by using users’ opinions
(occurred in the construction industry) have not and Pareto analysis.
undergone a significant reduction. The trend could As highlighted by the literature [1], incidents due to
be considered constant. impacts between the crane or its load and objects or
other equipment are often due to limited or poor
visibility of the surrounding workspace (from the
crane operator point of view). The crane navigation
system is an important and challenging
phenomenon, with a great potential for safety
improvement. Although the typical crane operator
interface seems simple in terms of the number of
controls to be manipulated, moving the spreader
quickly and accurately, with or without a container,
requires an exceptional sense of its dynamics,
including how to effectively stop the moving mass
often facing the “stabbing in the blind” scenario. To
Figure 4. Trend of the number of fatalities associated fill this gap a project, entitled Smart PRocess
with crane-related accidents in construction [4]. Industry CranEs (SPRINCE), was recently funded
with the aim to improve the safety for crane operator
Figure 5 summarises the major causes of lethal by implementing an innovative real-time detection
accidents [4] and provides the overall percentages of system of objects and developing a risk indicator for
fatality for each of them. Furthermore it is important the implemented solution.
to underline that several other crane accidents
determine injuries and equipment damage and 4. CONCLUSIONS
property losses. These consequences determine Accidents involving cranes can severely damage
undesired stops due to the absence of operability people and companies. Unfortunately these show a
(missed work days) and increasing insurance rates. constant trend in term of number of fatalities over
A study, done by OSHA in 1997, reported that the the years. By analysing the causes of accidents, the
majority of crane accidents are non-fatal and most highest percentage is associated with the
injuries do not involve crane operators but other electrocution, but the contribution of impacts with
workers (such as ironworkers, riggers, carpenters the load and the crane (strikes) is also significant.
[11] and sometimes bystanders, rescue workers, To further improve safety, there is the need of a
etc.). more integrated approach, where design safety and
safety in the use fields are considered as one entity
[2], with more attention paid to human error issues.
Overhead power line The literature has highlighted the main needs for
electrocutions crane design (capability to be safely operated, easy
Struck by crane loads 21%
maintenance and reduction of typical human
problem factors), but up to now worldwide research
Crane collapses 14% has not been focused on the crane navigation system.
The need of a new solution for crane visual tension

Struck by crane problems has emerged from this investigation of

accidents and will be partly faced within the
Falls 9% SPRINCE project.
Struck by cranes or crane
This research is part of a project entitled “Smart
Caught in/between 5%
PRocess Industry CranEs (SPRINCE)”, which is
Other causes 7%
supported by the consortium ERA-NET SAF€RA -
Coordination of European Research on Industrial
Safety towards Smart and Sustainable Growth under
0% 10% 20% 30%
the Seventh Framework Programme for Research
% of deaths and Technological Development.
The University of Messina and the University of
Figure 5. Causes of crane-related deaths [4]. Belgrade, respectively, acknowledge INAIL (Istituto
Nazionale per l’Assicurazione contro gli Infortuni [8] Shapira, A., Simcha, M. (2009). AHP-based
sul Lavoro) and MESTD (Ministry of Education, weighting of factors affecting safety on construction
Science and Technological Development) for the sites with tower cranes. Journal of Construction
funding of the SPRINCE project. Engineering and Management, 135(4), 307-318.
[9] Spasojevic Brkic V.K., Klarin M.M., Brkic
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