Crane & Vacuum Lifter Safety

Wind conditions can create potentially dangerous conditions for cranes or vacuum lifters. Put safety first and follow our advice below for operating cranes and vacuum lifters outdoors in our unpredictable Irish weather.

1. Be Weather Wise

The weather in Ireland is notoriously unpredictable. A bright sunny morning can quickly become a dismal downpour by lunchtime.

Sudden changes in weather conditions like this are all too common and even a slight shift in wind speed or direction can compromise the stability and performance of cranes and vacuum lifters. Always be on the alert, stay aware of the environment around you and keep the following precautions in mind from our essential crane safety guide.

2. Know The Limits

Safe crane operations are hampered by wind in a number of ways, but an initial factor to consider is the limitations of the structure.

Safe use of Compact Cranes Safe use of Vacuum Lifters in Windy conditions

When using a Compact Crane, the maximum wind speed for safe use is:
22 miles per hour / 36 km per hour / 10 metres per second

The size, weight and shape of a load has a bearing on the stability and loading of a crane.

In windy conditions, the more the boom is extended, the greater the risk of losing control and potential for tipping or structural failure. Strong winds may cause the load to sway, making the operation of our mini cranes, pick and carry, mini crawler and HIAB cranes more challenging.

Safe use of Vacuum Lifters Safe use of Vacuum Lifters in Windy conditions

In the case of Vacuum Lifters, the maximum wind speed for safe use is:
18 miles per hour / 29 km per hour / 8 metres per second

Work during strong winds or gusty conditions creates a substantial danger should a load begin to sway or fall away. An increase in height corresponds to an increase in wind speed and consequently a greater risk of serious damage or injury.

If the wind speed is below 29 km/h and you still have a concern about using a glass lifter, you may add some additional stability to the load by connecting draw lines using hand cups.

WARNING: If you are using different types of machinery, the maximum wind speed for safe use is the lowest limit for the equipment. For example, when using a vacuum lifter in conjunction with a compact crane, the maximum wind speed for safe operation remains that of the vacuum lifter at 18 mph / 29 k/mph.

3. Know Your Speed

The dangers of working with cranes in windy conditions are all too obvious and all steps necessary to avoid serious accidents must be taken. Keep track of wind speed by use of either an anemometer or the Beaufort scale.

Caution: When measuring wind speed, always account for the frequency, duration and speed to which the wind is gusting in the area of operation.

Use an anemometer to measure wind speed for safely operating cranes in high windsAnemometer

This useful device can be used to measure wind speed and temperature to aid the assessment of safety both before and during a lift.

Be extremely aware of the effect your surroundings have on such measurements as they can vary widely depending on where exactly they are taken. Buildings, trees and other nearby structures can create a vortex or friction which may give rise to inaccurate and unreliable readings.

Also bear in mind that wind speed varies, so even though a good anemometer can give very accurate readings, the measurements should be considered to be a rough guide to the actual wind speed.

The Beaufort Scale

If an Anemometer is not available, an alternative method of wind measurement is available in the form of the Beaufort scale. Assess the environment around your position and use the chart below as a reference point.

Wind Force Description Specifications for use on Land Wind Speed
0 Calm Smoke rises vertically <1 km/h
1 Light Air Direction of wind shown by smoke but not by wind vanes 1-5 km/h
2 Light breeze Wind felt on face, leaves rustle, wind vanes begin to move 6-11 km/h
3 Gentle breeze Leaves and small twigs move constantly, wind extends light flag 12-19 km/h
4 Moderate breeze Raises dust and loose paper, small branches begin to move 20-28 km/h
5 Fresh breeze Branches of a moderate size move, small trees in leaf begin to sway 29-38 km/h
6 Strong breeze Large branches in motion, whistling heard in overhead wires 39-49 km/h
7 Near gale Whole trees in motion, effort needed to walk against the wind 50-61 km/h
8 Gale Breaks twigs off trees, generally impedes progress 62-74 km/h
9 Strong gale Breaks branches off trees, slight structural damage occurs 75-88 km/h
10 Storm Trees are broken or uprooted, considerable structural damage occurs 89-102 km/h
11 Violent storm Very rarely experienced. Causes widespread damage 103-117 km/h
12 Hurricane Severe widespread damage, unsecured objects are thrown about 117+ km/h

If you have any queries regarding the safe use of our equipment in poor weather, please contact us for more details.

4. Size Up, Load Up

Every load is different and there are many factors to consider before commencing a lift. Here are some general guidelines that should form part of your regular safety check.

Size Matters – The dimensions and shape of a load will dictate how much of the cross section will be exposed to the wind and this, relative to its weight, will make it more or less susceptible to unforeseen movements during a lift. When possible, ensure tag lines are employed and always adhere to the manufacturer’s wind speed operating guidelines.

Off Limits – Never exceed the limits set down by the crane manufacturer. While standard in-service wind speeds exist, makes and models vary widely and come in a broad range of configurations. Always check the individual operational limitations and take into account the specifics of the load.

5. If in Doubt, Contact Us

If you have any queries regarding the safe use of our equipment in poor weather, please contact us for more details.