x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Crane fall sparks safety warning

Inspector claims lapses in site procedures caused crane to collapse across Hamdan Street.

Inspector claims lapses in site procedures caused crane to collapse across Hamdan Street.
Inspector claims lapses in site procedures caused crane to collapse across Hamdan Street.

ABU DHABI // A leading expert gave warning over building-site safety procedures in the capital yesterday after a mobile crane toppled to the ground near a busy road.

The crane, which belonged to Al Hareef demolition company, fell over near the junction of Salam and Hamdan streets shortly before 10am.

Richard Colley, who works for a crane inspection company approved by the municipality, said while regulations were improving in Abu Dhabi, companies were still not adhering strictly to them.

"Dubai has got a good system in place … but in Abu Dhabi it's not as enforced," said Mr Colley, the operations manager of the lifting equipment division of Velosi.

Mr Colley, who trained for six weeks as a crane operator in the British Army, said part of the problem in Abu Dhabi was a lack of education.

"Some companies only offer one or two days' training," he said. "We [Velosi] offer anything from five-day refreshers to 10-day courses."

Ali Ahmed El Taher, the project manager at Al Hareef, said it was the first such accident in the four years the company had been operating. "It was a technical problem and this is the first time we have had any problem," Mr El Taher said through a translator. The crane had broken "from behind", although he was unable to say why.

The crane had been used at four other construction sites, he said, and was operating at the time of the accident. The driver was uninjured.

Abdulaziz Zurub, the head of health, safety and environment at the municipality, said initial reports had described a mobile crane with a wrecking ball attached toppling over while moving in reverse.

All construction or demolition site accidents must be reported to the health and safety department.

Al Hareef is not one of the 25 demolition companies registered with the municipality, but representatives for the company said the crane had been given a safety certificate and the company was registered with the Chamber of Commerce.

Dismantling the crane took several hours, causing severe backups on both roads. Work at the site later resumed.

Al Hareef is now awaiting a municipality report into the accident and is looking into increasing its safety measures.

"We are already safe and we will make new plans to increase safety," said Mr El Taher.

Mr Colley said there was no way of knowing exactly what went wrong without further investigation.

"The hoist rope could have been damaged or the computer system [operating the crane] could have been overloaded," he said.

Daily visits from the municipality's health and safety inspectors specifically focus on crane safety.

Every building project is required to draw up a comprehensive safety plan, which has to include measures to minimise the risk from any machinery, particularly lifting equipment.

Mr Colley said Velosi, one of six safety inspectors approved by the municipality, had not issued Al Hareef's safety certificate.

It was not the first time he had seen a crane topple backwards, he said.

"Basically the boom, it's under tension because the load is on it. If you take the load off quickly, the boom is going to move in the opposite direction," Mr Colley said.

"Then, when it gets to a pivot point it'll go so far, and then gravity will take over and it will just carry on going over."

The capital is making concerted efforts to stop such accidents recurring.

Health and safety officials are drawing up regulations for lifting equipment and expect them to be in place this year.

They will require crane operators to be qualified and cranes to be regularly inspected.