Review safety requirements for crane operations

CAP calls on the government to review and tighten procedures relating to the safe operation of cranes, in view of the increasing number of crane accidents. In the recent crane accident in Georgetown, Penang, two workers on the skylift mounted on a crane were injured and one motorcyclist was killed. This incident raises a number of questions related to work safety and road safety. An immediate enquiry should be carried out.

The MPPP had commissioned a local contractor to carry out works on the lamp posts along Jalan Masjid Negeri which is a dual carriageway. The crane operator chose to park his vehicle on the left pavement of the carriageway in order to work on a lamp post on the right side of the carriageway.

The lamp post worked on was in close proximity with 2 other lamp posts and a tall tree. A very intricate job was being carried out in the wee hours. The lamp post would have been more accessible if the crane was parked on the side facing the lamp post. In that case the crane operator would not have had to lower the boom until the crane lost its balance.

For a job of this nature the crane apparently was not the right vehicle employed. The skylifts used by Tenaga National for maintenance work on lamp posts should have served the purpose better.

After the crane toppled at 3.30am we are not aware of what efforts were made by the contractor to ensure motorists were sufficiently warned of the fallen boom. Did the contractor put up strobe lights and warning signs or cones to guide the traffic and slow down or stop? Otherwise how did a motorcyclist crash into the boom at 6.30am and die despite the presence of police.

The way the events unfolded seems as though there was not enough planning done before carrying out the job. Such difficult and dangerous jobs should not be left to the crane operator and a few workers alone to manage.

CAP therefore calls for the following measures to be taken urgently:

• An enquiry should be carried out immediately;

• Ensure that crane operators have the relevant skills and are certified;

• That contractors are equipped with the right safety equipment and materials at all times;

• That contactors know what actions to take during emergencies;

• That there is proper planning before such works are carried out;

• That cranes are inspected periodically and certified.

Letter to the Editor, 28 January 2014