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Winter Crane Safety: What you Need to Know

Cold weather construction jobs come with their own set of challenges. Using cranes in cooler weather conditions will call for specific precautions largely because of the impact of very cold temperatures on the structural integrity and performance of steel.

When the weather is cold enough, steel can take on a dangerous brittleness. When this takes place, the capacity of steel crane and hoist equipment can be lowered. With this in mind, what can you do to ensure optimum efficiency, safety and dependability during a project?

In extreme conditions, a project needs to have equipment that's up to the job and compliant with industry-wide overhead crane safety standards. You can’t always just wait for summer to carry out a construction project. With this in mind, if you work on a specific job during winter, you might have to deal with subpar weather. While certain types of cranes may be more susceptible to weather conditions than others, you'll need to think about winter weather - whatever type of crane you use.

Having a bit of information regarding winter crane use will be able to help you plan out your construction job with a realistic timeline. Learn what you need to know about some aspects of winter weather that can affect safe crane operation.

High Wind Speeds

Various cranes possess different limits on how much wind they can resist. An example being, a mobile crane may be rated for winds up to 31 miles per hour. While at the same time, a crane that's secured may be safe in stronger winds, up to 64 miles per hour.

Keep a lookout for the weather forecast when scheduling work on your crane. This can help you avoid planning to use the crane on days that have high wind speeds. And try to remember, the forecast can differentiate from the actual weather; winds may turn out stronger than expected, and they may be stronger at crane height than at ground level.


A crane might well be one of the biggest pieces of equipment on your construction site and maybe one of the most damaging if uncontrolled. Much like windy weather, poor visibility can also stop the operator from ensuring the crane doesn't hit anything and cause danger.

Some other factors to think about when predicting visibility levels include fog, rain, snow, other precipitation (for example sleet), sun glare (reflected from ice or snow), as well as lighting. Like the wind, the visibility conditions may be predicted by looking at the forecast. But the main decision on when to stop work due to poor visibility will have to come down to the crane operator themselves.

Icy Conditions

Driving on icy roads can be highly dangerous, and the same goes for the crane operation in icy weather. Some of the issues with ice can have on crane operation include: The load could freeze to the ground and become more tricky to lift. The load may be more weighty than expected if ice forms on the load. The crane may carry extra weight (from ice forming on the crane) and have a lowered lifting ability.

Clear Snow and ice

Falling is of course the most obvious danger of working at height, but ice and snow make it an even bigger possibility. Black ice, whether caused by fluctuating temperatures or frozen

condensation is a common problem but is often hard to spot. Similarly, snow could melt and refreeze or compact over time, making it difficult to remove and easy to slip over on. Be sure to shovel and de-ice regularly to stop any potential falls or painful slips.

Prepare for Wind

Even without heavy snow, wind presents a real challenge at height. Faster winds triggered by higher altitude can accelerate cold stress and must be carefully worked around. Keep any materials fastened down when not in use and offer protected areas where workers can regularly step out of the wind to warm up. Keep an eye on wind readings on the ground and at height to ensure no equipment is damaged and everyone is safe.

Avoid cold Stress

Cold stress is something which happens when the body cools down faster than it can warm up. It can cause disorientation, numbness, frostbite, and hypothermia, and swiftly speeds up once it sets in. It is especially dangerous to people working at height as it could be hard to get back to the ground for treatment if it progresses too far. Make sure everyone on site knows the signs of cold stress and how to immediately treat them. Speak to your local work safety board for more information on cold stress and its various symptoms.

Dress Appropriately for the Weather

Your clothes are always your first level of defence against winter hazards. Dress in layers to make adjustable insulation against the cold and wind, be sure to wear a waterproof top layer. If any of your clothes soak through, change into something dry as soon as possible.

Protect your PPE

If your fall equipment freezes and thaws often, the material may stiffen or rot, weakening it and putting the user at risk. Likewise, drying it with an electric dryer or heater may stiffen or melt the material. Keep your PPE properly in a cool area where it can dry completely without the risk of freezing, and always check your equipment before using it for damage or weakness.

Plan for Rescues

Winter weather poses significant challenges into completing emergency rescues. Uncleared snow, ice, and low visibility may make a straightforward rescue plan almost impossible,

so you must have more than one plan in place. Think about making a list of winter hazards that could cause rescues and make multiple plans to account for every area.

Work in Pairs

If cold stress kicks in, disorientation and numbness could make it ricky for you to recognize the need to stop working and get treatment. If a person is aware of what is happening, they may ignore warning signs of illness to carry out what they’re working on. Work in pairs to oversee each other’s conditions and to ensure that if cold stress does occur it is dealt with immediately.

Crane and Lifting Services - Services across the UK

Here at Crane and Lifting Services Ltd, we are one of the most well-renowned and oldest crane companies in South Wales. Our crane engineers have years of experience within the industry and we consistently invest in our training and equipment which keep us at the forefront of changes in technology and ensures we lead when it comes to our crane repair services in South Wales.

So with that in mind, If you require professional crane servicing, maintenance or repairs, get in touch with the experts at Crane and Lifting Services. Our independent crane examiners offer full inspections to identify any weak links in your equipment and any parts that need to be replaced. We also offer a 24-hour emergency crane repair service, so you can get back to work safely as soon as possible. For more information about our crane servicing and repairs, contact us today or visit our website.

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