Good communication is key to successful crane lifts, says experienced Hird crane driver Craig Jessop.
Craig has been a crane operator for more than 12 years and is now the crane driver of Hird’s 50 tonne Grove GMK 3050 mobile crane.
He has worked on numerous different crane lifting projects, from sea wall construction, to roof truss lifting, to machinery moving and installations at hazardous chemical plants.
From Craig’s point of view, from the crane cab, he says good communication maximises the chance that a lift will go smoothly at all stages of planning and implementation.
He adds: “Crane lifting is all about dealing effectively with a lot of variables that affect how a lift can be safely completed.
“That includes the nature of the load, ground conditions, site conditions, the technical capability of the crane and lifting equipment, as well as the expectations of the client, and that’s just a few of them.
“No job is ever the same. The best way to make sure a crane lift is carried out successfully is to communicate at all stages.”
His working day begins at the depot, with his daily checks on the Grove crane he is in charge of. Further operational and safety checks are made on site, before a lift is carried out.
Then it is Craig’s responsibility to operate and constantly monitor the mobile crane and how it is set up throughout each lift, especially in terms of ground conditions.
He says effective communication starts with how he works with Hird’s Appointed Person, Mick Bradshaw, who carries out site visits and puts together the risk assessment and method statement (RAMS) for each lift.
Craig says: “It’s my responsibility to implement the RAMS. One of the variables, such the lay-out of the site, might change.
“So, I may have to liaise with lift supervisor and Mick, as the Appointed Person, to review the lift. He has to be confident in my interpretation of the situation.”
There are a large number of site risks that have to be considered – including the position of power lines, telecommunication cables and drains.
On construction sites, these can change by the hour.
So once Craig arrives on site to carry out a lift, effective liaison with the site manager is essential.
“Some of the site staff may not have worked with cranes before. The priorities on the site since the RAMS were put together may have changed, so the client’s expectations may be different.
“It’s important that I quickly assess the situation. A good toolbox talk about how lifts will be carried out with the site team is essential.
“Having a good relationship with the banksman and slingers is also very helpful.
“Safe crane lifting is a 360 process. A crane operator can only look in one direction at once.
“Having a team that’s alert to all the risks helps us carry out lifts more effectively, which is good for the safety everyone, but most importantly the client.”
One of the best pieces of advice Craig says he could pass on to a client is to be smart about how lifts are managed on the day.
He explains: “My basic rule would be to carry out the most important lifts first, especially if the weather could be changeable.
“For example, we may be wind off [stop lifting operations because of wind conditions]. Sometimes, it turns out we would have been better carrying out the lifts in a different order to keep operations running on site.”
The biggest buzz he gets is when good teamwork results in everything going according to plan, and a job is completed safely and on time.
He says: “When everyone works well together, from the RAMS to rigging up, safety is top notch, all the lifts are completed smoothly, with the client well pleased, and that’s how I really like it.”
Hird provides a national contract lifting and machinery moving service via its three regional operational centres.
For more information about these services, or other Hird lifting services, including mini crane hire, spider crane hire, glass lifting equipment hire and glazing robot hire, contact Hird today.
Northern 01482 227333
Central 01302 341659
Southern 0203 174 0658