A recent Linkedin article highlighted the lack of industry clarity regarding load testing of cranes in Australia and around the world.
The Australian Crane Standards (AS 1418 & AS 2550) only explicitly require load testing at commissioning. AS 1418.3. Section 12 Inspection & Commissioning requires the following tests be completed:
- Apply maximum rated capacity at point of maximum deflection.
- Measure bridge deflection and compare with calculated deflection.
- Remove load and measure permanent deflection.
- Check each hoist brake function, hoist speed and input current at both maximum rated capacity and 110% of maximum rated capacity.
- While the rated capacity is held by the main hoist.
- Test travel and traverse motions at full speed to ensure load is controlled.
- Test hoist brake function when power failure occurs during lowering.
- Test electrical system for voltage drop during simultaneous operation of the main hoist and travel under full load and acceleration.
- Check noise levels.
- Prepare an accurate and complete report of all test results.
Note that AS 2550.3 requires a continuous working record of all significant events concerning the safety and operation of the crane be kept and shall be readily available. The commissioning test results are one of the most important documents that should be maintained by a crane owner/operator.
Clarification of the load testing requirement was provided by a Standards Australia Ruling SA RUL CR.1-2013 Rulings to cranes, hoists and winches which confirms that when testing the brake function under power failure that the test should be performed at the rated capacity and full speed. Using the emergency stop is only satisfactory if it sufficiently simulates the condition of power failure. No prescribed stopping distance is provided, only that the brake ‘shall be capable of bringing the fully loaded crane to rest, without shock, in the shortest possible distance consistent with safe working’.
A safety bulletin on power failure testing has also been issued by the WA Department of Mines & Petroleum.
Major Inspection or Repair
The Australian Crane Standards do not specifically require load testing as part of a Major Inspection. However AS 2550.3 requires that structural integrity, emergency functions and braking systems be checked. It is our opinion that a load test is an important test in validating these functions and mitigating the risk of their failure. The intent of the Major Inspection is effectively to recommission the crane so a comparable test regime should be completed and documented.
The Crane Industry Council of Australia’s Major Inspection Verification Plate Requirements includes at a minimum a 110% overload test to confirm brake holding capacity.
3rd Party Inspection
Again the Australian Crane Standards do not require load testing for an annual inspection.
A 100% load test is required as part of CraneSafe’s ‘Green Sticker’ Inspection. Our view is that a load test can be a valuable tool to mitigate risk and should be completed if practicable. However especially with larger capacity cranes an annual load test can introduce significant additional costs, where alternative risk mitigation methods may be more appropriate.
Load testing is a critical tool in ensuring crane safety. The load testing and documentation requirements of AS 1418.3 are comprehensive and our experience has been that the majority of overhead cranes we review do not have documentation to satisfy this requirement. Ensuring that a suitable load test program is completed and made available is one of the critical actions a crane owner can take to ensure their responsibilities under the OHS Act and Regulations are met.