How to Safely Operate a Tower Crane in Extreme Weather Conditions
Operating a tower crane under normal weather conditions can be challenging. Thus, if you're trying to use this equipment in abnormal weather, you may face serious obstacles that could potentially stall your project or cause accidents and fatalities. Unfortunately, you cannot put down your tools every time the winds rage or the temperatures drop below freezing point.
This is why you need to come up with a strategy for safely operating tower cranes under extreme weather. This article will detail safety measures you should employ when using a tower crane in cold, windy, rainy or extremely hot weather.
Tower cranes are designed to handle maximum wind speeds of around 72km/hr, with each type and model having a different wind rating. Thus, before you operate the equipment, check the prevailing wind speed against the wind rating indicated by the manufacturer. If the speed is extremely high, it can sway the crane or load and increase the risk of accidents. Thus, observe the following safety measures:
- Examine the load to determine if its features can potentially affect the safety of a rig under the prevailing conditions
- Reduce the height of the crane as winds tend to affect lifts more if they are higher above the ground
- Consider delaying the operation until wind speeds reduce to an acceptable range
Fix a wind gauge on each tower crane to provide an accurate wind speed reading on each lift. Beware of wind gusts which tend to occur suddenly but can have devastating effects on your project.
Heavy Rains and Lightning
Rain can potentially damage components of a tower crane and expose them to failure. If it enters parts such as the clutch and brakes, it can impact the performance of those parts. Therefore, consider delaying lifting jobs in times of heavy rain. You can wait for the rain to subside before resuming the work. Also, move your crane to a sheltered area to protect it from water damage.
There are times when rains are accompanied by lighting. This can pose an extreme danger since tower cranes are operated at a height above buildings. If lightning hits the crane, it can damage the electrical components or even injure the operator. Thus, do not operate a tower crane when there's lighting.
Extremely Hot Weather
While tower cranes can operate well in the summer, extremely high temperatures can affect their performance. Heat tends to damage seals and filters. When the lubricant on metal parts gets hot, it accelerates corrosion and shortens the lifespan of the seals and filters. Thus, you need to protect your crane from extremely high temperatures.
Clean the filters and seals regularly to protect them from the effects of the hot weather. Also, use lubricants and UV-resistant covers to protect the seals and bearings from friction and wear. Conduct daily checks and inspections on your crane parts during the summer.
Winter weather poses a unique challenge to tower crane riggers. The freezing temperatures can reduce the tensile strength of the crane and affect the performance of the hydraulic system. If the hydraulic fluid freezes or thickens, it won't be able to provide the pressure required to operate hoists and rigging devices. This could also affect the braking system and increase the risk of accidents.
Employ the following safety measures when operating your tower crane in cold weather:
- Reduce the size of the load as cold weather lowers the lifting capabilities of the crane
- Refinish crane parts with cold-weather finishes which can endure low temperatures without freezing
- Swap your motor with a severe-duty one which comes with a special insulation to endure low temperatures
If you're not able to employ these measures due to an unexpected drop in temperatures, you should abandon the lift until the weather warms up.
Wind, rain, heat, and extreme cold can adversely affect the performance of your tower crane. Follow these safety measures to reduce accidents on the site and to extend the lifespan of your equipment. Always refer to the manufacturer's manual for guidelines on the performance of the tower crane under extreme weather conditions.
To learn more about cranes, contact a crane hire company.