How Cold Weather Conditions Can Affect Crane Operations

How Cold Weather Conditions Can Affect Crane Operations

Operating your HIAB crane in winter frequently requires allowing for and mitigating some extra risks. Your lift planning and execution must always be as safe as you can make it. This requires careful thought and often takes additional time. The golden rule when operating in adverse weather conditions is to Slow Down. That may be difficult when delivery schedules have been promised but safety is paramount.

Get my copy of the FREE Guide To Finding & Diagnosing HIAB Crane Faults here!
Using your HIAB in winter puts extra strain on the mechanical, hydraulic and especially the electrical systems. Wipers and lights may be running for extended periods and put extra load on the battery. Pre-season maintenance checks and servicing are just essential to prevent outages later on.

Safety Concerns In Extreme Weather

It’s not just the HIAB that is affected by adverse weather conditions. Snow, ice, high winds and heavy rain affect people too, can disrupt schedules and cause stress. Snow flurries are a major distraction as well as reducing visibility. These factors may impact concentration levels, which is something to be aware of and guard against.

Winter Crane Operation In Cold Weather

Freezing weather affects machinery as well as bringing the hazards of snow and ice.

  • Fluids - The characteristics of fluids change in freezing temperatures, which means equipment will not perform at 100% normal efficiency until it has warmed up. Operators need to perform the correct warm-up sequence for machinery as per the user manual and that should be mandatory.
  • Freezing up – Operators need to allow time to free up frozen levers and clear snow and ice from equipment.

Operating A HIAB In High Wind

Buffeting gusts can easily push a heavy load off track, causing damage or injury. The operator needs to exercise judgement as to whether it is safe to load or unload, or whether a planned lifting exercise is best abandoned. Hooks and slings must never be allowed to pendulum out of control, and securing them between operations takes on added importance.

The operator needs to carefully assess the effect that gusting wind will have on a specific load – lighter loads are more susceptible to gusting. The lift profile too must be considered, as wind effect is stronger with height. The bottom line is that an operator must have authority to make the required decisions to ensure that safety is prioritised.

Heavy Rain Presents Risks For Crane Operation

Slippery ground, especially sloping ground, has caused many a truck loader accident. The vehicle itself can slide when the forces exerted by loading and unloading are too great for the ground surface to bear.

Stabilisers, too, need special attention on soggy ground because sinking can unbalance and topple a vehicle. Additional pads may be necessary. Loads wrapped in plastic or polythene, such as bricks sometimes are, may be too slippery to grab in pouring rain and best to cut the polythene off to ensure a safe grip.

Avoid Crane Failure This Winter

Winter crane operation places more demands on the machinery with an increased risk of mechanical failures. However, cold-weather precautions and speedy fault detection can help reduce the likelihood of downtime or expensive repairs – even in the worst weather. Download our free guide; How To Find And Diagnose Hiab Crane Faults to find out more.

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