Story by The Angry Rigger
Okay we all have to start somewhere in construction whether you want to be an electrician, carpenter, rigger or tower crane operator. Start at the bottom and work your way up.
Fair enough, my issue is with the new legislation; the national Workplace Health & Safety Act 2012 and the impact of that act to WorkCover high risk ticketed workers and people that employ those workers. Previously WorkCover NSW had the 2000 and 2001 Occupational Health & Safety Regulations and Act to follow and enforce.
Under this legislation high risk workers would have a trainee / newbie worker such as a rigger or scaffolder work under the ticketed worker and record their hours and tasks worked with a log book. Once sufficient hours and work tasks were documented a WorkCover assessor could be booked in to come to site and assess the worker with a practical and written test. Most of the training the trainee received was practical real onsite training and once assessed if they passed they were a ticketed high risk worker with months to years experience, they were competent to work doing their high risk work. You would find a worker that did their ticket under the logbook system could do the job they were ticketed for. When I got my tower crane license, for many months prior I took my logbook to work every day, and with the permission of the builder in the quiet periods I would do an hour here and there under the guidance of an experienced tower crane operator. Although when ticketed I was by no means an expert but I did have understanding of the job and the crane I had trained on.
Then... WorkCover updated their legislation to the national Workplace Health & Safety Act 2012
Under the new legislation only registered training providers can train workers for their high risk work license. No longer is there the option to work under the logbook on site without going to a RTO.
No disrespect to the RTO's as they are working within the legislation and are required in the licensing of high risk workers but they pump out a licensed tower crane operator in one week, people hear that they can become a licenced tower crane operator / dogman / rigger in a week and all of the glorious riches they will have once they are licenced and working in a country with a massive skills shortage. They pay their hard earned $2,000 - $3,000, sit in a classroom for a week learning how to do a written test and come out with a high risk license, no experience and no trade. They are lucky to touch a crane and the practical test is basic to say the least. Now they are ticketed they look for work and find that no one wants to employ a tower crane operator with under 3 years experience so they either write off the $3,000 or lie about work experience to get a start, do a few lifts then get sacked.
There are so many problems with this system, mostly though are
The current system makes proper on site training inaccessible to workers
Someone with one week learning for a test and no on site experience as a tower crane operator and a 5+ year tower crane operator have to be paid exactly the same
A builder should be able to expect that someone licensed to do high risk work is capable of doing high risk work at the level demanded in the work environment
Incompetent workers are mixed up with experienced workers making the employers jobs difficult and wasting time for the worker, the co workers, the client and the employer.
I propose some solutions, I am no genius and we don't need to reinvent the wheel we just need to look at what works elsewhere and implement or bring back those systems, the proposals are as follows
1) Bring back the logbook system - it was a good system, it worked, we need it back!
2) Workers on separate tiers - at a minimum there should be a "trainee tower crane operator" and "tower crane operator" job classification with pay rates to reflect the workers output and supervision required. We already have this system for many other trades and whilst we don't enjoy the low pay when starting out it does provide the employer with an incentive and thus opportunities for less experienced workers to build up experience and provides recognition of a workers experience.
3) A formal apprentice system for these high risk trades, in Canada a 2-3 year apprenticeship program is required to become a qualified tower crane operator with two 6 week classroom sessions. A similar system also runs in America. (I have attached a brochure for the tower crane operator apprenticeship)
If anyone else has any suggestions on how to improve the current system I would love your feedback
Sydney, home of bad traffic, tolls and ridiculous house prices. But it is all made up for by our majestic harbour. I have had the joy of working on Sydney harbour, it is a wonderful view and a busy harbour. There are always ferries, yachts, cargo ships and small sail boats from the local boat clubs making their way about on the harbour. Every now and then a massive cruise ship will be towed in or out of the harbor by some tug boat.
One thing to be careful of when working on the harbour is the weather, it can become very windy very quickly, going from very little wind to having to stop working virtually instantly. I have been told the windiness is caused due to the different temperatures on land and on water causing the sea air to move to the land air.
And if you have the opportunity to work as part of a tower crane crew on Sydney harbour here is a free tip; make sure to bring a jumper, because those winds can also be quite cold.
A huge construction crane has collapsed onto a block of flats in Kirov, Russia, smashing through several floors of the nine-story complex.
Around 250 people live in the building, including 37 children, but despite extensive damage to the outside there were no reports of injuries.
Witnesses described hearing a loud noise and seeing the several ton crane rolling towards them, before it crashed into their flats.
Tenants reportedly ran into the hallways for shelter as the crane tore through balconies at the front of building.
Seven cars parked outside were badly damaged, one was said to have been crushed into a “shapeless heap of metal”.
One resident told reporters: “We were in the kitchen and heard a loud rattle.
“Later, in the window … a nearby construction crane bent down and began to fall directly on us, on the balcony. We ran to hide in the hallway.”
The accident was reported at 5.50 pm on Sunday in the small town, about 1,000 km north-east of Moscow.
Ambulances, fire engines and police officers rushed to the scene.
The regional Emergencies Ministry is investigating claims the crane was not properly secured and broke free from its mooring in strong winds.
Another Kirov resident said: “The wind was quite strong and right in front of my eyes the crane started rolling down the rail towards the house.
“It drove for about 100 meters and then collided with the limiter and fell on the nearby nine-story block house. It fell on a car, you can’t see the car on the video, the rest of the crane smashed the balconies and other cars parked outside.
“When we came to take a closer look, we saw that the cranes nearby kept working. It looks like the fall of a neighboring crane didn’t scare them at all. Local channels reported that the crane was swinging and then fell, but I saw it and it was rolling for quite long and then fell. I didn’t film the actual moment unfortunately.”
Reference: Sky News
Author: Katie Stallard
Republished with permission
The crane cabin is the tower crane operators office. As a tower crane operator you will be spending up to twelve hours a day inside the cabin so you want to be sure you have a comfortable seat, and generally they are. Most crane cabins have heaters and air conditioning to ensure comfort, external windscreen wipers, radio and CD player. Sometimes there is downtime and you are stuck in the cabin with nothing to do so I always bring a book with me in case I need to pass the time.
Getting to the cabin is uncomfortable but has to be done daily unless you are operating by remote control, my last tower crane was a 50 meter climb however there are much much higher cranes than that, its not uncommon for tower cranes in the city to be in excess of 100 meters high. Some crews take one break, others take two. If your taking two breaks and coming down each time on a 50 meter tower crane you are climbing up and down 300 meters a day, 600m on a 100m tower crane.
Communication from the cabin to the dogmen, riggers and foreman is by radio, on mobile cranes they still use whistles but on a tower crane there is not much chance of hearing whistle signals from that distance.
There is no bathroom in the cabin so make sure you go before making the climb, on of the best things about the crane cabin is the incredible 360 degree view.
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