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Crane hire vs Contract hire

There are two main ways to commission a crane to carry out a lift – crane hire or contract hire.

Both have their advantages and disadvantages, depending on the nature of the lift being carried out, and the needs of the organisation that needs it to be done.

Crane hire

The standard terms for crane hire have been established by the CPA, the Construction Plant-hire Association.

Under CPA terms, with crane hire, the customer is responsible for planning and supervising the lift.

It must provide an appointed person, who makes sure the crane is appropriate for the lift and plans the lift, as well as slingers.

The hire company provides the crane, and ensures it is in good working order. It also provides the crane operator.

The customer:
  • Must also prepare a risk assessment and method statement and ensure the lift complies with BS7121 and LOLER
  • Is responsible for the safe operation of the crane and for providing insurance in case anything goes wrong.
  • Is liable for any damage to crane or any other structures that may be impacted while the crane is on site and carrying out the lift.

Crane hire – the advantages

Hiring a crane in this way is often seen as the least costly way and quickest to plan and carry out the lift.

But that is only if the customer has the skills and resources, for example a qualified appointed person and slingers in house, to fulfil those functions.

The customer must also weigh up the risks associated with the lift with the costs and liabilities if it is not completed smoothly.

crane hire - hird

contract hire - hird

Contract hire

With a contract hire lift, the crane hire company takes on much more of the responsibility.
The hire company:
  • Ensures the crane is appropriate for the lift and that it is in good working order. It also provides a qualified crane operator and slingers.
  • Appoints an appointed person to plan the lift and, if that person is not on site, an appropriately trained and qualified person (and team) to supervise the lift.
  • Must provide insurance and is responsible for the safe operation of the crane, making it liable for damage or injury caused directly by the lifting process.

Contract hire – the advantages

The upfront cost of a contract hire lift is, on the face of it, higher than for crane hire.

However, this is because the crane hire company takes complete responsibility for providing and managing resources needed to carry out the lift legally and safely.

In these terms, the customer is relieved of costs – in terms of money, time and management resource – to plan and implement the lift. This reduces risks associated with the project.

The customer is also largely not liable for any damage or injury caused during the lift, as long as they have fulfilled an obligation to commission an appropriate crane hire company to carry it out.

Crane Hire vs Contract Hire – at a glance

Crane hireContract hire
Hire company provides crane operatorHire company provides crane and qualified operator
Hire company ensures machine is in good working orderHire company ensures all machines is in good working order
Customer responsible for machine being appropriate for lift projectHire company ensures machine is appropriate for the lift project
Customer is responsible for safe operationHire company is responsible for safe operation
Customer is responsible for providing insuranceHire company Hire company is responsible for providing insurance
Customer is responsible for having an appointed person + slingersHire company is responsible for having a qualified appointed person / Slingers
Customer is responsible for risk assessment and method statementHire company is responsible for risk assessment and method statement