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Quantitative risk assessment of tower cranes based on conformity

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Fernando Nunes
Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa


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Occupational Safety and Hygiene V – Arezes et al. (Eds)
© 2017 Taylor & Francis Group, London, ISBN 978-1-138-05761-6

Quantitative risk assessment of tower cranes based on conformity

F.O. Nunes
Instituto Superior de Engenharia de Lisboa, Portugal

P.E. Lamy
Universidad de León, León, Spain

ABSTRACT: Development of a non-statistical quantitative risk assessment methodology based on con-

formity assessment, i.e., compliance with legislation, applicable standards or good practice rules. The quan-
titative safety assessment of tower cranes is carried out based on the score of a list of items to be inspected,
developed for that purpose, with specific weights in the calculation of an overall compliance level.

1 INTRODUCTION A study of the causes of crane accidents

(Jarasunas, 1987), concluded that, from the point
In a typical industrial setting, workers are continu- of view of safety engineering, the priority is to
ally exposed to the same environment and the same make tools and equipment as safe as possible using
hazards. A construction worker, unlike many other the available technology. However, it is noted that
industrial workers, can work for several different hazard identification, risk control and the provi-
employers and locations in the same year. The sion of safety information present a differentiated
construction industry thus differs from other sec- level of development by manufacturers and are
tors of activity where workers are constantly con- the subject of some public policies and initiatives
fronted with new challenges and dangers as work by safety professionals (Schulte et al., 2008; Bluff,
progresses, since its operations involve complex 2014). Other studies have made specific sugges-
and dynamic work environments that present new tions on the training of operators (Häkkinen, 1993;
risks to their workers on a daily basis. Neitzel et al., 2001; Beavers et al., 2006).
Because of its complex and constantly changing In Portugal, there is no specific technical docu-
nature, the construction industry has high numbers mentation of the official entities or official rec-
of injuries and mortality rates compared to other ognition that establishes the ‘bridge’ between the
industries (Neitzel et al., 2001). applicable legislation and the Harmonized Stand-
Although there are several causal factors behind ards, for each type of work equipment, created as
these high rates of serious and fatal accidents, a national reference, integrated in the context of
many of these injuries and fatalities can be attrib- work equipment and having identical guidelines and
uted to a critical equipment: the crane. However, assessment criteria for the various actors involved
the proportion that can be related to cranes is dif- in this process.
ficult to deduce precisely since the participation of The lack of this technical documentation means
accidents often suffers from deficiencies in classifi- that each actor involved in this process establishes
cation and determination of their causes. their own guidelines and evaluation criteria, which
As a central component of many construction are often uncoordinated and strongly conditioned
operations, cranes, in their various configurations, by market economic pressure, relegating to the
are known to be associated with a high number of background the proper interpretation of the legis-
fatal accidents. Numerous statistics and available lation and the use of good practices and common
studies confirm this association, and it is even sug- sense, which should always be present.
gested that cranes are involved in up to one-third On the other hand, there is no established sys-
of all deaths in the construction and maintenance tem in Portugal which allows for the accreditation
industry (MacCollum, 1993). of entities to intervene in this area and there are no
It is recognized that because of their configu- conformity assessment procedures for lifting and
ration and concept of operation, mobile cranes load handling, for tower cranes, which are harmo-
are potentially more dangerous than tower cranes. nized with the legal requirements.
However, the use of tower cranes involves particu- At international level, several studies exist that
lar safety issues, as well as larger work areas that relate to tower cranes, but with a limited scope
normally cover the entire yard and in some cases of action. There is, thus, still room for scientific
even crosses its borders. research and development in this area to find the


OSH2017_Book.indb 305 2/20/2017 9:22:03 AM

technical bases allowing the implementation of An objective approach for use in each situation
measures leading to conformity assessment, in may also be based on direct assessments of parame-
an expeditious, consensual and recognized way, ters allowing the verification of the state of compli-
by the various agents involved in this process in ance with legislation and harmonized standards.
Europe. Normally the conformity checklists used by the
When they exist, statistics and accident records inspection entities are constructed from the legis-
only provide information on the circumstances, lation, but merely indicating the text of the legal
nature, consequences, symptoms and causes nearby, document regarding the applied article(s), making
and very rarely provide all the causes of the accidents their application very subjective.
investigated. Due to the incomplete and inaccurate To avoid this situation, a weighted checklist was
nature of these records they do not clearly indicate created, resulting from the accumulated experience of
the relationship between causes and effects. As such, the safety inspection to tower cranes placed in service
the statistics and the investigation processes do not in the Lisbon area (Lamy, 2009), indicating in a sys-
necessarily reflect the reality of the risks to workers’ tematic way, the possible items that may not be prop-
safety (Hammer, 1989; Hinze et al., 1998; Abdelha- erly compliant, regarding a “reference condition”.
mid & Everett, 2000; Beavers et al., 2006). This “reference condition” results from the
The reality is that statistics suitable for a safety interconnection of the minimum safety and health
study involving tower cranes, are almost non- requirements applicable to this type of work equip-
existent. Firstly, because tower crane accidents are ment with the information contained in the har-
usually only involved in cases of serious or fatal monized standards (European Commission, 2016),
injuries. Hence, numerous cases simply do not con- good practices (CPA, 2008; HSE, 2008) or reference
tribute to statistics, even if they are reported within technical documentation.
each construction company. These cases, which The checklist presented in Table 1, where %W
may involve personal injury or property damage, means the percent weight of the item in the Overall
constitute most crane related accidents. In addi-
tion, incidents and near misses, some of which
have the potential to turn into serious accidents,
Table 1. Tower crane conformity checklist.
are often not reported even within companies.
Thus, the existing literature has concluded that the ITEMi %Wi
information resulting from the accidents does not
provide sufficiently robust data for safety research 1—DOCUMENTATION (9%)
purposes (Butler, 1978; McDonald & Hrymak, 1.1 Identification plates (*) 1.80
2002). 1.2 CE marking (*) 1.08
Even when complete and accurate, information 1.3 EU Declaration of Conformity 0.90
related to an accident does not always reflect the 1.4 EU Declaration of Conformity (Port.) 0.90
reality of effectively installed safety. One work site 1.5 Instruction Manual 1.44
where a more serious accident occurred than in 1.6 Instruction Manual (Portuguese) 1.44
another does not necessarily have a worse overall 1.7 Maintenance records 0.72
level of safety. The use of accident records as a 1.8 Inspection records 0.72
safety indicator for a single construction site is in 2—CHASSIS (8%)
most cases impossible because many of them do 2.1 Rails Condition (*) 0.24
not have any reported accidents and so it is not pos- 2.2 Rails fixings 0.40
sible to say they are safer than others with one or 2.3 Knockers (*) 0.40
more accidents (Laitinen et al., 1999; McDonald & 2.4 Supports 0.40
Hrymak, 2002). 2.5 Bearings 0.16
2.6 Support shoes 0.40
2.7 Drums (fixation) 0.32
2.8 Motor—Reducer 0.16
2.9 Brake (*) 0.48
2.10 Carcass 0.40
To evaluate safety in the use of tower cranes, the
2.11 Screws 0.80
methodology to be developed should be based on
2.12 Ballast identification 0.20
the calculation of safety indices for individual sites 2.13 Ballast fixation 0.20
(Beavers et al., 2006). Shapira & Simcha (2009) pro- 2.14 Profiles Condition (*) 0.80
pose a quantitative risk assessment methodology 2.15 Welds (*) 0.80
based on a set of previously identified safety factors 2.16 Screws/connection elements (*) 0.80
whose individual contribution to the assessment is 2.17 Accesses 0.80
weighted according to its relative importance, as 2.18 Disengagement of workspace 0.24
assigned by a panel of experts (safety professionals
and manufacturers). (Continued )


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Table 1. (Continued ). Table 1. (Continued ).

3—TOWER (8%) 7—CAR (5%)

3.1 Chassis (*) 0.80 7.1 Profiles condition (*) 0.50
3.2 Chassis connection elements (*) 0.56 7.2 Welds (*) 0.50
3.3 Profiles condition (*) 0.40 7.3 Cylinders/rollers 0.25
3.4 Interconnection holes 0.24 7.4 Re-routing pulley 0.15
3.5 Fire extinguisher 0.16 7.5 Pulley shaft 0.15
3.6 Welds (*) 0.48 7.6 Motor—Reducer 0.10
3.7 Ladder 0.80 7.7 Brake (*) 0.40
3.8 Body guards 0.40 7.8 Carcass 0.25
3.9 Life line 0.80 7.9 Screws 0.20
3.10 Passages 0.72 7.10 Steel cable (*) 0.75
3.11 Safety platforms 0.40 7.11 Cable tie in car 0.25
3.12 Body guards 0.80 7.12 Fixing at the tip of the boom 0.50
3.13 Screws/connection elements of 0.40 7.13 Car Safety System 0.50
sections 7.14 Maintenance basket 0.50
3.14 Turntable 0.40
3.15 Rotation crown 0.32
8.1 Motor—Reducer 0.50
3.16 Rack 0.32
8.2 Brake (*) 1.50
4—PIVOT (3%) 8.3 Carcass 0.50
4.1 Profiles condition (*) 0.45 8.4 Screws 0.50
4.2 Welds (*) 0.45 8.5 Cable guide and pressure washer 0.60
4.3 Screws/connection elements 0.30 8.6 Steel cable (*) 3.50
4.4 Ladder 0.45 8.7 Cable tie 1.20
4.5 Body guards 0.45 8.8 Screwdriver 0.50
4.6 Life line 0.60 8.9 Pulleys 0.80
4.7 Accesses 0.30 8.10 Pulleys shafts 0.40
5—BOOM (8%) 9—HOIST (3%)
5.1 Profiles condition (*) 0.80 9.1 Structure 0.30
5.2 Welds (*) 0.72 9.2 Safety signs 0.60
5.3 Screws/connection elements (*) 0.40 9.3 Information of Safe Working Load 0.75
5.4 Motor—Reducer 0.16 (SWL) or Work Load Limit (WLL)
5.5 Brake (*) 0.40 9.4 Pulleys 0.15
5.6 Carcass 0.16 9.5 Pulleys shafts 0.15
5.7 Screws 0.16 9.6 Lifting hook (*) 0.30
5.8 Re-routing pulley 0.16 9.7 Safety catch 0.75
5.9 Pulley shaft 0.16 10—WIRING (8%)
5.10 Car distribution profiles 0.32 10.1 General power inlet 1.20
5.11 Knockers 0.48 10.2 Safety device of the electric board 0.80
5.12 Distance/load plates 0.96 10.3 Contacts, fuses, transformer 0.80
5.13 Life line 1.60 10.4 Wear elements 0.40
5.14 Passages 0.72 10.5 Electrical wiring (*) 2.00
5.15 Accesses 0.80 10.6 Control panel 2.00
6—COUNTER-BOOM (5%) 10.7 Protection of direct and indirect contacts 0.80
6.1 Profiles condition (*) 0.50
6.2 Welds (*) 0.50 11—COMMANDS AND/OR CABIN (10%)
6.3 Screws/connection elements (*) 0.40 11.1 Command identification 1.00
6.4 Motor—Reducer 0.10 11.2 Condition of commands 0.80
6.5 Brake (*) 0.40 11.3 Indication: radius & load by computer (*) 0.90
6.6 Carcass 0.25 11.4 Emergency stop (*) 0.50
6.7 Screws 0.20 11.5 Indicators—lamps 0.40
6.8 Counterweight 0.50 11.6 Dead man system (*) 1.00
6.9 Re-routing pulley 0.10 11.7 Horn 0.50
6.10 Pulley shaft 0.10 11.8 Instruction plate (Portuguese) 1.00
6.11 Life line 1.00 11.9 Load table 1.00
6.12 Passages 0.45 11.10 Glasses 0.30
6.13 Accesses 0.50 11.11 Glass wipers 0.30

(Continued ) (Continued )


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Table 1. (Continued ). The compliance level of each item (Item Com-
pliance Level—ICL) with the respective health and
11.12 Chair 0.30 safety requirements is defined by the attribution
11.13 Lighting 0.20 of a score ranging from ICL = 0.00 (Level 1) to
11.14 Fire extinguisher 0.40 ICL = 1.00 (Level 5), Level 1 being for the state
11.15 Climatization System 0.40 considered completely non-compliant and Level 5
11.16 Equipment Operator 1.00 for the full compliant state.
12—HIDRAULIC CIRCUIT (2%) Each of the five compliance levels, to be inter-
12.1 Sealing 0.50 preted by a competent person, were defined as:
12.2 Safety valves 0.30
12.3 Retention valves 0.30 • Level 5 (=1.00)—Comply satisfactorily with
12.4 Motor 0.30 the inherent requirement(s) of the item. Corre-
12.5 Carcass 0.30 sponds to a conformity Condition (C);
12.6 Screws 0.30 • Level 4 (=0.75)—Slight deviation from the inher-
ent requirement(s) of the item. Partial conform-
ity Condition (PC);
13.1 Access forbidden to unauthorized persons 0.60
• Level 3 (=0.50)—Important deviation from the
13.2 Identification signal near fire extinguisher 0.30
inherent requirement(s) of the item. Partial
13.3 Obligatory use of the safety belt 0.90
13.4 Danger of electric shock 0.90
Nonconformity Condition (PNC);
13.5 Several dangers 0.90
• Level 2 (=0.25)—Serious deviation from the
13.6 Danger of hot surfaces 0.60 inherent requirement(s) of the item. Noncon-
13.7 Danger of suspended loads 0.90 formity Condition (NC);
13.8 Danger of being caught by the machine 0.30 • Level 1 (=0.00)—Very serious deviation from
13.9 Danger of being hit by the lifting cable 0.30 the inherent requirement(s) of the item. Critical
13.10 Safety signs 0.30 Nonconformity Condition (CNC).
14—TESTS (15%) If one of the items of Table 1 marked with aster-
14.1 Lifting limit (top) 0.75 isks is found to be a very serious condition (Level 1),
14.2 Lifting limit (bottom) 0.30 the entire process is conditioned. In this situation,
14.3 Rotational limit (*) 0.75 it is immediately classified as being on State E, as
14.4 Limit of the car ahead 0.75 defined later.
14.5 Limit of the car behind 0.75 Typically, the inspection of the tower crane with
14.6 Travel course limits (*) 0.75 the application of the checklist takes from 90 to
14.7 Maximum load limiter (*) 1.50
120 minutes depending on its dimensions (height
14.8 Load limiter (moment) (*) 1.50
below 50 m, boom with car, etc.) and the number
14.9 Car speed limiter (*) 0.75
of nonconformities to be annotated.
14.10 Vertical speed limiter (*) 0.75
The influence that each item i has on the Over-
14.11 Emergency stops (*) 1.80
14.12 Weathervane system (*) 1.20
all Compliance Level (OCL) of the tower crane,
14.13 Functional tests (*) 0.75
calculated between 0 and 100%, is obtained by the
14.14 Dynamic test (*) 0.75 product of its ICLi (0.00; 0.25; 0.50; 0.75 or 1.00)
14.15 Static test (*) 0.75 by its %Wi. So, the overall compliance level is cal-
14.16 Aerial warning light 0.30 culated by Equation (1).
14.17 Sound buzzer 0.60
14.18 Anemometer 0.30 OCL
C SF i (ICLi Wi ) (1)
Number of items: 165 100%
If some items cannot be applied (not
applied—NA) to the crane under inspection, a
Compliance Level (OCL), is exclusively for tower Scale Factor (SF) adjusts the calculated value to the
cranes with electric drive, horizontal boom, pivot, percentage scale. This factor is calculated by Equa-
translation, and does not include: tion (2), and depends of the sum of the percentage
weights of all items j “Not Applied” (NA).
° items that require measurement of parameters
(noise, vibration, EMF, etc.); 100
° items related to the location of the cranes; SF = (2)
100 − Σ j %W j
° items related to operator experience and training;
° items related to operators lift connected to the
crane; Overall Compliance Level (OCL) obtained for
° items related to poor assembly and/or the tower crane determines its state and the con-
maintenance. sequent actions. States are defined from A to E,


OSH2017_Book.indb 308 2/20/2017 9:22:03 AM

according to the following criteria and consequent ment with a spreadsheet and its utilization in tower
actions: crane inspections in the Lisbon area, has shown a
high correlation between the OCL calculated from
• State A (80 < OCL ≤ 100)—It can work. However,
Equation (1) and the overall safety state of each
it is advised to resolve the reported nonconformi-
inspected tower crane.
ties. 'Declaration of Adequacy to the Service' is
issued with a validity period of one year;
• State B (60 < OCL ≤ 80)—Same as state A, with
possible limitations, after commitment from the
person in charge of the equipment of adequate
Mandatory inspections at times defined by legisla-
resolution of the nonconformities up to 60 days;
tion (initial, periodic and special inspections) must
• State C (40 < OCL ≤ 60)—Same as state B, may be
be carried out by a competent person, i.e., a per-
necessary to recheck the equipment after resolution
son who has such practical and theoretical knowl-
of the nonconformities. Operation with possible
edge and experience of the lifting equipment to be
limitations and commitment of adequate resolu-
thoroughly examined enabling them to detect
tion of the nonconformities up to 30 days;
defects or weaknesses and to assess their impor-
• State D (20 < OCL ≤ 40)—It is recommended
tance in relation to the safety and continued use
not to operate. It can be necessary to recheck the
of the lifting equipment (CPA, 2008). This ensures
equipment after resolution of the nonconformi-
a reliable interpretation of the criteria defined for
ties. ‘Declaration of Adequacy to the Service’
the compliance levels of the items in Table 1.
is only issued after confirmation of resolution
Since the model’s development was tailored for
of the nonconformities, with a validity period
quantitative compliance assessment of any indi-
of six months to one year according the type of
vidual tower crane through its Overall Compliance
Level (OCL), to be carried out during the manda-
• State E (0 ≤ OCL ≤ 20)—It is strongly recom-
tory inspections, quantitative safety assessment
mended not to operate. The immediate resolu-
results are in turn available.
tion of the nonconformities is recommended. It
The use of comprehensive quantitative terms
will be necessary to recheck the equipment after
also allows safety issues on construction sites to be
resolution of nonconformities. ‘Declaration of
addressed more understandably, rationally, effec-
Adequacy to the Service’ is issued only after
tively and efficiently.
confirmation of resolution of the nonconformi-
ties, with a validity period of 6 months.

Abdelhamid, T.S. and Everett, J.G. (2000). Identifying root

3 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION causes of construction accidents. Journal of Construc-
tion Engineering and Management. 126(1). 52–60.
This process has a subjective component involved, Beavers, J.E., Moore, J.R., Rinehart, R. and Schriver,
but since it is detailed, that is, it involves the veri- W.R. (2006). Crane-related fatalities in the construc-
fication of up to 165 items in the tower crane con- tion industry. Journal of Construction Engineering
formity checklist, on a percentage basis, the result and Management. 132(9). 901–910.
is consistent with the approximate safety state of Bluff, E. (2014) Safety in machinery design and construc-
the equipment. tion: Performance for substantive safety outcomes.
Searching for evidence-based safety in the con- Safety Science 66. 27–35.
Butler, A.J. (1978). An investigation into crane accidents.
struction industry, Swuste et al. (2012) reports that their causes and repair costs. Building research estab-
many articles indicate that the structures and proc- lishment. Building Research Station. Garston. Watford.
esses that are designed to ensure safety in the con- U.K.
struction industry are poor. Authors also reported CPA (2008). Maintenance, Inspection and Thorough
that safety management systems do not work, or Examination of Tower Cranes: CPA Best Practice
are limited, business processes executed are frag- Guide. Tower Crane Interest Group (TCIG) of Con-
mentary, it is often unclear who is responsible for struction Plant-hire Association. Reference No. TCIG
safety and parties lower in the construction hierar- 0801.
chy tend to be saddled with the consequences. European Commission (2016). Commission communica-
tion in the framework of the implementation of the
The presented method allows for a quantitative Directive 2006/42/EC of the European Parliament
assessment of the effective safety of each inspected and of the Council on machinery. and amending
tower crane. The main benefit of this methodology Directive 95/16/EC: Publication of titles and refer-
is to allow for an evidence-based risk assessment ences of harmonized standards under Union harmo-
obtained in the mandatory inspections carried nization legislation. Official Journal of the European
out on tower cranes. Overall, it is easy to imple- Union C 332/1.


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