Bridge & Gantry Crane Operator Training

We are often asked to clarify the training requirements for operators of overhead travel cranes. This article explains the legal framework around training and high risk licences. Note that this has been written from a Victorian standpoint, however the general principles are common for all States.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004

Under the act all employers have a duty of care to their employees which includes:

  • to eliminate risks to health and safety so far as is reasonably practicable; and
  • if it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate risks to health and safety, to reduce those risks so far as is reasonably practicable.

This requires an employer to so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain for employees of the employer a working environment that is safe and without risks to health. This includes provision of such information, instruction, training or supervision to employees of the employer as is necessary to enable those persons to perform their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health.

The act also requires that a person must not carry out work, or an activity if the regulations require the work or activity to be carried out by a person who is registered or licenced.

The Occupational Health & Safety Regulations 2007

The regulations provide further detail regarding the requirement for training.

The employer must ensure that employees likely to be exposed to the risk, and any person supervising the employees, are trained and provided with information and instruction in:

  • the processes used for hazard identification and control of risk; and
  • the safety procedures associated with the use of the plant at the workplace; and
  • the use, fit, testing and storage of personal protective equipment, if personal protective equipment forms part of the risk control measures.

The regulations also provide specific information on high risk licences. A high risk licence is required in the operation of an overhead crane in two different situations.

Bridge & Gantry Crane (CB) High Risk Licence

A high risk licence is only required for a bridge or gantry crane if the crane is a powered crane that;

  1. consists of one or more bridge beams mounted at each end to an end carriage; and
  2. is capable of travelling along elevated runways; and
  3. has one or more hoisting mechanisms that are able to travel across the bridge beam or beam — but does not include a crane that has 3 or less powered operations and that is controlled from a location remote to a permanent cabin or control station on the crane;

Therefore the majority of bridge or gantry cranes do not require a licence to operate as they are both remote or pendant controlled and are limited to 3 or less powered motions (hoisting, traverse and travel).

The regulations do not define the extent of a powered operation. Safe Work Australia’s Cranes Code of Practice (currently in draft form awaiting final approval from the Ministerial Council) provides some clarity with the following examples of what constitutes 4 or more powered motions;

  • a single hoist with 4 powered operations, e.g. traverse, travel, hoist and rotate.
  • multiple hoists with 4 or more powered operations, e.g. two non-synchronised hoists would typically have at least 5 powered operations (traversing x2, hoisting x2, and travelling).

Our interpretation of this definition is that it extends the requirement for a licence to operation of a crane with the common configuration of  non-synchronised main and auxiliary hoists mounted on a common trolley.

Note that this conflicts with guidance from the Government of WA which states that the number of powered motions of operation is determined as follows:

  1. short/cross travel is one motion;
  2. long/length travel is a second motion; and
  3. hoist raise or hoist lower is a third motion. [note: the main hoist and auxiliary hoist/s (if any) are considered part of the hoisting motion.]
  4. A rotating hook is an example of a fourth powered motion.

Dogging / Rigging High Risk Licence

If the crane operator does not hold a bridge and gantry crane (CB) high risk licence and the connection of the load requires judgement in the selection of the lifting gear or the crane operator requires assistance to direct the load then the person performing these tasks must hold either a high risk dogging or rigging licence.

An operator of a remote controlled bridge or gantry crane can sling a load under the following limited circumstances;

  • the bridge and gantry crane is operated by remote control and has no more than three powered motions.
  • the weight of the load to be lifted is predetermined by a competent person (for example, may be marked on the load).
  • selection of the sling and slinging techniques for the load is predetermined by a competent person.
  • condition of lifting gear is predetermined by a competent person.
  • lifting points are predetermined by a competent person and marked on the load.
  • load is lifted within the view of the operator at all times; and
  • standard lifting procedures have been documented and signed-off by a competent person.

A competent person includes a holder of a dogging or rigging licence or an engineer experienced in designing crane lifting procedures. Unless these circumstances are met, a holder of a high risk dogging licence must be used to sling all loads.


There is a distinct hierarchy of training that a crane owner must ensure is in place.

  1. All crane owners and employers have a duty of care responsibility to provide systems of work and information, instruction and training to their employees who operate the crane. This responsibility applies regardless of any high risk licencing requirements.
  2. If a crane is operated from a cabin or permanent control station then the operator is required to hold a bridge and gantry crane (CB) high risk licence.
  3. If a crane has four or more powered motions then any operator is required to hold a bridge and gantry crane (CB) high risk licence.
  4. If judgement is required to connect the load then the responsible person must hold either a bridge and gantry crane, dogging or rigging high risk licence.
  5. If the crane operator is unable to see the load at all times then a licenced dogman or rigger is required to guide the lift.