Leading organisations in the European crane industry believe that a whole category of crane accidents in Europe have been reduced since the revised EN 13000 European standard for mobile cranes came into force in May 2010.
The EN 13000:2010 standard (since updated to EN 13000:2010+A1:2014) included the requirement that the override switch be located outside the operator’s cab to discourage the use of the override function by the operator.
Initially, this was opposed both by manufacturers and crane owners who argued that it reduces the ability of the operator to have full control of the crane in an emergency situation which could result in a serious accident, including loss of life.
European experts have now said that the amended standard appears to have resulted in significant improvements in safety on jobsites. The issue will be discussed at the next meeting of the International Crane Stakeholders Assembly in Perth, Australia, in September.
Evidence of the impact on safety has come from both ESTA – the European association of abnormal road transport and mobile cranes – and FEM, (Fédération Européenne de la Manutention - the European materials handling federation). Both organisations have been jointly asking their members for feedback about the effect of the change.
“The new regulation has been in operation for five years and a large number of cranes have been delivered with the new set up of the rated capacity limiters,” explained Klaus Meissner, president of FEM’s Mobile Crane Product Group and director, product strategy, at Terex Cranes.
“Overriding the rated capacity limiter is not the cause of an accident. The decision to operate beyond a crane’s rated capacity would be the cause of an accident. The override switch may be seen as the “enabler” for this incorrect crane use.”
Meissner added, “In Europe there have been no accidents reported on cranes delivered after May 2010 related to operating outside of the permitted capacities. Moreover, we have had zero complaints from operators and no reports of situations where the new position of the override switch caused an issue.
“So as far as we can tell, with such cranes delivered after 2010, there is a whole category of accidents that we are simply no longer seeing.”
Søren Jansen, ESTA director, agreed and said that the safety impact of EN 13000 went beyond the behaviour of the operator and appeared to be affecting how jobs are carried out.
“Not only have certain types of accidents been reduced but, from our feedback, it seems that crane owners are making doubly sure that they are sending out the right size crane for a particular job and that they are spending more time planning the jobs before they go out on a contract,” Jansen added.
He continued, “In the past, too many cranes were deliberately overloaded, sometimes to ‘help’ the customer, because the operator did not trust the LMI, or simply because he believed that he had a crane much stronger than it appeared in the lifting chart.
“But in today’s market, after an accident, most insurance companies request a print-out from the event recorder or data logger, and more and more crane manufacturers are also requesting print-outs from the data logger, when warranty claims are submitted.
“Crane owners are not ‘helping’ their customers when overloading a crane. After an accident no customer will come to the rescue of the unfortunate crane owner or operator.”
Jansen added, “Clearly, it is not for ESTA to say what is best for others. All we can do, and should do, is to tell colleagues in the industry of our experience of the EN 13000 changes.
“And so far, for us in Europe, that experience has been entirely positive.”