This Guide provides information on inspecting, testing, maintaining and repairing cranes
in the workplace and supports the General guide for cranes.
This Guide forms part of a series of guides and information sheets for cranes that
includes information on:
- mobile cranes
- tower cranes
- bridge and gantry cranes
- vehicle loading cranes
- vessel-mounted cranes
- crane-lifted workboxes
- using other powered mobile plant as a crane, and
- quick-hitches for earth moving machinery.
Maintaining a safe work environment
As a person conducting a business or undertaking you have obligations under the
Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable,
workers and other people are not exposed to health and safety risks arising from the
business or undertaking. This includes making sure cranes at your workplaces are
inspected and maintained.
A preventative inspection, maintenance and testing program will help ensure a crane
is safe to use. Inspections and maintenance should be done in accordance with
the manufacturer’s instructions or, if these are not available, a competent person’s
specifications or according to relevant technical standards and engineering principles.
Checklists for the inspection and testing of tower and mobile cranes including for major
inspections and tower crane pre-erection and commissioning inspections are at
Before operating a crane a pre-operational check should be completed by a competent
person. An appropriate log book should be used to record the condition of the crane.
Routine inspection and maintenance
Regular inspection, maintenance and repair are to be carried out in accordance with the
manufacturer’s instructions or those of a competent person. For inspections, if this is not
practicable, they must be completed at least annually.
Cranes should be routinely inspected and tested even if they are not operated regularly.
This is because the crane may have deteriorated through corrosion or be damaged
Routine inspections can take place weekly, monthly or quarterly and should include
an inspection of:
- crane functions and the controls for speed, smoothness of operation and limitsof motion
- emergency and safety switches and interlocks including limiting and indicating devices
- lubrication of moving parts
- verify accuracy of any load moment indicator (LMI) and rated capacity indicator(RCI) devices with a test lift using a certified test weight
- filters and fluid levels and leaks
- visual inspection and measurements as necessary of structural components and criticalparts including brakes, gears, fasteners, pins, shafts, wire ropes, sheaves, locking devices and electrical contactors
- signage including warning signs and control markings
- wear on wheels and tyres, and
- extra items nominated in the crane manufacturer’s instructions.
A written report should be prepared when the inspection is finished. If replacement
parts are needed as a result of the inspection, these parts should meet the original part’s
If a crane has been damaged and there are risks to health and safety, it should be
immediately taken out of service and people prevented from operating the crane. If the
crane needs to be operating during maintenance or cleaning, risk control measures must
enable this to occur without risk to health and safety.
Regular inspections must be carried out in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
or those of a competent person or, if this is not reasonably practicable, annually.
An annual inspection may be less comprehensive than a major inspection. It should include
every item specified by the crane manufacturer for annual inspection and every item
included in the routine inspection and maintenance programs.
Annual inspections should include a detailed check of:
- unctioning and calibration of limiting and indicating devices
- structural and wear components
- tolerances for wear limit
- evidence of corrosion
- critical areas for evidence of cracking, and
- for tower cranes, relevant items in the pre-erection inspection and tests that can be safely completed while the crane is erected
Where a tower crane owner is aware a crane will be erected when the scheduled annual
inspection falls due, the owner can choose to carry out an annual inspection before
erecting the crane or during the pre-erection inspection
A major inspection must be completed for registered mobile and tower cranes.
Non-registrable mobile cranes and bridge and gantry cranes should have a regular ‘major’
inspection completed so that they continue to be safe to operate.
Major inspections must be carried out at the end of the crane’s design life, as determined
by the manufacturer’s instructions, or if these are not available, as determined by a
competent person to meet the same minimum requirements established by relevant
If it is not reasonably practicable to inspect a crane according to either of these, you
should inspect the crane at least every 10 years from the date the crane was first
commissioned or registered, whichever was first. This must include inspection of the
structure as well as mechanical components.
Major inspections must be carried out by, or under the supervision of, a competent person
- has acquired through training, qualifications or experience the knowledge and skills to carry out a major inspection of the plant and is registered under a law that provides for the registration of professional engineers, or
- is determined by the regulator to be a competent person.
Appendix A lists some items to be inspected during a major inspection for tower and
mobile cranes. Some of the items may not apply, for example where the item does not
exist on the crane. The full list of items to be inspected must be determined by a
Completion of a major inspection does not indicate that the components inspected will
have a further 10 year life. It should not be assumed that the items included in the list
only require inspection at 10 yearly intervals. Items will require some type of inspection
and maintenance at more frequent intervals, for example at annual and other inspection
intervals, according to the crane manufacturer’s instructions.
Where there is documented evidence that inspection and testing has been carried out
on certain items, for example slew ring bolts, drive systems and braking systems, within
a reasonable preceding period (as determined by a competent person) the item may
not have to be stripped down in the major inspection. The competent person should still
inspect the safe operation of the item to certify it is operating safely and document the
reasons for the decision.
Crane records including maintenance logbooks of the significant events concerning
the safety and operation of the crane must be kept and readily available. Records
should be kept in a suitable format and must be transferred with ownership of the
crane. Entries in the maintenance logbook should
- clearly describe the work carried out and parts replaced
- be dated
- note the name of the person carrying out the work, and
- be signed by the person carrying out the work.
The checks, adjustments, replacement of parts, repairs, inspections performed and
irregularities or damage concerning the unit’s safe use must be recorded.
Inspection records should include a statement from a competent person confirming
the item of plant has been inspected and is safe to operate.
Inspection records should include
- What was looked at – component specification or areas of the plant inspected.
- What was looked for – signs of wear, damage, cracking or corrosion.
- What criteria were used – rejection criteria.
- How was it looked for – techniques used.
- What was found – test results, photographs or measurement.
- What was recommended – repairs required before continued use.
- What recommendations were actioned – recommendations acted upon and date
- tasks were completed.
Pre-erection inspection and tests—on ground inspection
Tower crane components should be inspected and tested by a competent person
according to the manufacturer’s instructions before being delivered to the workplace
and before being erected.
Where a tower crane owner is aware a crane will be erected when the scheduled annual
inspection is due, the owner may consider carrying out an annual inspection during the
Crane owners should develop their own pre-erection inspection and test report that
satisfies the requirements of the WHS Regulations and the manufacturer’s instructions.
The report should also reflect the specific type and model of crane and reference relevant
design drawings and test certificates.
Commissioning inspection and tests
Commissioning inspections and test should be carried out by a competent person
according to the manufacturer’s instructions before a tower crane is put into service.
Non-destructive testing of tower crane components
Non-destructive testing (NDT) is the testing of materials to detect internal, surface and
concealed defects, cracks, breaks or gaps using methods which do not damage or destroy
the material being tested.
NDT must be carried out by a competent person having suitable knowledge and
experience in NDT methods and being able to determine the appropriate NDT method for
the component being tested.
When using magnetic particle NDT to detect cracks in metals remove the paint from the
metal surface. This is not required for Eddy current NDT.
NDT of specific tower crane components should take place according to the
manufacturer’s instructions and at set intervals, for example pre-erection tests and major
inspection. Table 1 indicates some common minimum frequencies of NDT for particular
Table 1. Minimum frequency of NDT for particular crane components
|Counterweight sheave bracket welds – moving
|Cruciform welds – luffing cranes onl
|Butt heal bosses – luffing cranes onl
|Band brake welds
|Slew ring bolts – where slew ring has to be
split at disassembl
|Crack test minimum 10% bolts
|Tower bolts (where applicable
||Crack test minimum 10%
|Boom lacing welds
||Crack test minimum 10%
||Crack test minimum 10%
|Slew ring bolts – slew ring
||Crack test bolts
|Boom chord thickness
||Material thickness testing
|Hydraulic luffing cylinder gland nut
|Hydraulic luffing cylinder and ram-rod ends
|A-frame – connector welds on primary chords
|A-frame lacing welds
|Welds on hook trolley
Crack testing of booms and counterweight sheave bracket welds
Booms on non-self-erecting tower cranes are connected by pins passing through male and
female clevises on the ends of each boom section. Every weld on male and female clevises
on the ends of every boom section should undergo NDT before each crane erection for
non-self-erecting cranes. Magnetic particle testing is the usual method
used for performing these tests.
Counterweight sheave bracket welds, butt heal bosses and welds in cruciform area on
luffing crane booms are known to crack and should also be crack tested by NDT before
each crane erection.
Crack testing of band brakes
Older designs of luffing tower cranes use band brakes. On some of these cranes the steel
band is welded to an end fitting that has a pin passing through it. These welds have been
known to crack.
You should crack test the weld between the band and the end fitting by NDT before each
time a luffing tower crane fitted with band brakes is erected, keeping in mind there may
not be a weld on some brake bands.
Crack testing of slew ring bolts
The integrity of slew ring bolts is critical for making sure both the machine deck and boom
remain attached to the tower. Once removed, slew ring bolts should be replaced unless the
manufacturer’s instructions state they can be reused. If bolts can be reused they should be
For tower cranes where the slew ring needs to be split each time the crane is moved,
NDT 10 per cent of slew ring bolts is suggested. Bolts to be tested should be selected from the slew
ring by a competent person. Complete removal of the bolts from the slew ring and use
of magnetic particle testing is recommended. If cracks are detected, bolts should be
discarded and replaced with new bolts.
Crack testing of tower bolts or pins
Tower bolts or pins are a critical part of the crane and permit the effective transfer of load
from the crane boom to the crane base. Tower bolts or pins can become damaged and
their effective life can be reduced if the bolts are either under or over-torqued. Some tower
bolts are made from extremely high grade steel and can be more susceptible to cracking.
Unless the manufacturer’s instructions state tower bolts can be reused, they should be
replaced. If bolts can be reused, crack test a minimum of 10 per cent of tower bolts by
NDT before each crane erection. If cracks are found, tower bolts should be discarded and
replaced with new bolts.
A system that makes sure tower bolts or pins are tested over time is preferred. However
a random system of testing can also be used. The tested bolts should be identified by
a method that does not damage the bolt.
Chord thickness testing
Steel lattice-type tower crane booms can be prone to internal and external corrosion
affecting the thickness of the boom. The thickness of the chord wall can be reduced
through abrasive blasting of the boom.
Main chord sections on tower crane booms should undergo thickness testing at intervals
not exceeding 10 years. Ultrasonic thickness testing is one method of verifying the strength
in the chords of the boom.
Review chord sections for structural adequacy when the thickness is shown by testing
to be 90 per cent or less than 90 per cent of the original thickness.
The following technical standards provide further information on inspecting and
- AS 2550.1-2011: Cranes, hoists and winches—Safe use Part 1: General requirements
- AS 2550.3-2002: Cranes, hoists and winches—Safe use Part 3: Bridge, gantry, portal(including container cranes) jib and monorail cranes
- AS 2550.4-2004: Cranes, hoists and winches—Safe use Part 4: Tower cranes
- AS 2550.5-2002: Cranes, hoists and winches—Safe use Part 5: Mobile cranes
- AS 2550.11-2004: Cranes, hoists and winches—Safe use Part 11: Vehicle-loading cranes,
- AS 2550.20-2005: Cranes, hoists and winches—Safe use Part 20: Self-erecting tower
Inspection / testing for tower cranes
|Pre-erection inspections / tests
||Commissioning inspections / tests
- NDT of welds on vital components
including boom clevises, butt heel
bosses and counterweight rope sheave
- NDT of tower crane bolts
- NDT of slew ring bolts
- NDT of aluminium sheave
- The condition of the power supply
- The condition of motor brake
- The condition of the slew ring gear and
- Air controls and associated valve
- The condition of ropes and sheaves e.g.
erecting, hoisting, counterweight and
trolley, correct rope tracking and no
signs of damage or excess wea
- The condition of limit switches and
- The condition of counterweights
- The condition and fitment of machinery
- Brake systems can be dismantled and
inspected for wear and damage
- dry brakes—before each erection or
more frequently if directed by the
- wet brakes—before each erection or
after 5 000 hours of crane operation
or as directed by the manufacturer
- Normal service items including items
supplied by the crane manufacturer e.g.
temperature control units and seating
being maintained in a serviceable
condition according to the crane
manufacturer’s instructions, and
- Other tests as specified by the
- Once the tower crane components have
been delivered to the workplace they
should be inspected by a competent
person for possible damage and
wear that may have occurred during
transport. Inspections should include:
- The crane base design and engineer’s
- Crane ties and structure to support
them where used
- The power supply and earthing
- Crane electricity supply—where used
- Crane base weights or ballast—where
- Tower section identification and
- Tower bolts to correct tension
- Pins and fastenings
- Climbing frame and connection
- Jib connection pins and retainers
- A-frame connections and retainers—
- Jib and deck pendant pins and
- Machinery guarding
- Leakage in lines, tanks, valves, pumps
and other parts of air or hydraulic
- The condition of the ropes and
sheaves e.g. erecting, hoisting, trolley
and counterweight, and correct rope
- Isolating switches
- The condition and phase of the
power supply cable
- Verification the crane wiring
complies with AS/NZS 3000:2007:
- Effective operation of controls
- Effective operation of indicating
- Effective operation of travel
- Effective operation of hoist upper
and lower—where needed—working
- Effective operation of warning
- Effective operation of weather-
- Effective operation of the hoist and
travel brakes when the crane is laden
to the maximum rated capacity
- Effective operation of the rescue
controlled descent device
- Other tests specified by the crane
- Slew Ring
- Hydraulic motors
- Hydraulic pumps
- Valve blocks
- Hoist and luff drums
- Braking systems
- Rope sheaves
- Hydraulic luffing
- Gear boxes and
- Pins with moving
parts for example,
boom heel pins and
- Static pins
- Steel wire ropes
Inspection / testing for mobile cranes
- Chassis including outriggers and boxe
- Drive train and suspension component
- Slew ring
- Slew ring bolts
- Hook rollers
- Drive systems including winches, hydraulic motors, gearboxes and drive-shaft
- Control systems
- Braking systems
- Electrical systems
- Hydraulic systems—cylinders including outrigger cylinders
- Safety devices including rated capacity limiters and load indicator
- Steel wire ropes, and
- Rope sheaves
- Electrical systems—hazardous voltage
- Control systems—non-hazardous voltage
- Electric motors
- Hook assembly