Category Archives: Tower Crane

Tower Crane

Tower Crane Markings and Documentation – Instruction manuals and log book

Tower Crane Markings and Documentation – Instruction manuals and log book

Manufacturer’s manuals containing all pertinent data relating to operation and maintenance for the specific model of crane in use must be provided with each machine.

The language used in the majority of the workforce in Hong Kong, especially among the shop-floor operations and the middle supervisory staff, is Chinese. It is essential that all the written instructions, the documents and literatures given by the crane manufacturers in relation to the safe use of the cranes (such as the load charts), if not in Chinese, be translated into Chinese so that the operatives have no difficulty in understanding them. Suitable arrangement should also be made to enhance communication in workplace where people would use languages other than Chinese or English.

If the equipment is not supplied with a log book then one should be started, maintained and kept at the workplace for the regular, periodic recording of all inspections, tests, repairs, maintenance, and hours of service related to the machine. All entries should be dated and signed by the operator, repairman and supervisor. The crane owner should ensure that the log book remains with the crane and is kept up-to-date throughout the working life of the crane

Tower Crane Markings and Documentation – Identification

Tower Crane Markings and Documentation – Identification

The crane should have a permanent durable plate bearing the manufacturer’s name, machine model, serial number, year of manufacture and weight of the unit for identification purpose.

Every major structural, electrical and mechanical component of the machine should have a permanent durable plate or a clear indication bearing the manufacturers’ name, machine model number, serial number, year of original sale by the manufacturer and weight of the unit. Besides, identification numbers should be clearly marked on all basic removable components and attachments of the machine (such as counterweights etc.) to show that they belong to that machine. It is important that these components should be used only on that machine or identical models or equipment for which they were specifically intended by the manufacturer.

Selection of Tower Crane – Operational characteristics

The operating characteristics of a Tower Crane are largely determined by its type
of mounting, type of tower and type of jib.

A tower crane with a static base only occupies a limited area but is able to cover, from its fixed position, all points at which loads are to be handled within the maximum slewing radius. They can be set at varying heights up to their maximum free standing height. They can also be extended beyond this limit by tying the crane back to the supporting structure.

Rail-mounted tower cranes have a larger area of coverage as they can travel along their tracks carrying their rated loads. However, the height requirement should not exceed the free standing height as recommended by the manufacturer. On the other hand, the crane service would be disrupted whenever work must be done on or near the track. The advantage of mobile tower cranes lies in great inward reach without the long jib which would normally be required to reach over the top of the structure.

Generally, truck-mounted tower cranes are completely self-contained and can be driven along roads. They are generally capable of comparatively rapid erection and dismantling. They are however generally unable to travel in their fully erected state and cannot handle loads while travelling.

Crawler-mounted tower cranes are required to be transported on a low-loader or towed on special road axles when travelling on public roads. Inside the workplace, some can travel over firm, flat, level ground carrying loads up to a specified proportion of their rated loads. They are also able to travel in a partially erected state but without load over unprepared ground provided it is within certain limits of level and compaction.

With a horizontal trolley jib, the hook is suspended from the trolley and moves in a horizontal direction when the radius is changed. Unless a luffing jib is equipped with a level-luffing device, the hoist motion will have to be simultaneously operated to achieve level travel of the hook when changing radius.

A horizontal trolley jib usually has a smaller minimum operating radius than the equivalent luffing jib and is thus able to handle loads closer to the tower of the crane. For a given height of tower, however, a greater height of lift is available with a luffing jib, and the jib can be raised or lowered to clear obstacles. One advantage of a fixed luff jib is that its extra height at the jib head enables it to clear objects that would obstruct a horizontal trolley jib. The advantage of a rear-pivoted luffing jib is that it has a smaller minimum hook radius than an ordinary luffing jib.

For articulated jibs, some designs are not required to weather vane. In this case, the crane is made to withstand storm winds with the jib drawn into minimum radius; there is then no need for a 360° obstruction-free slewing path. One type of this crane has a hinged jib arranged so that the outer portion remains horizontal. As the jib is folded, the outer portion rises, giving increased height and the ability to pass over obstructions.

The selection of a crane for any job should be made only after a thorough examination of all the factors involved. In general, it is good practice to select a machine which has a working margin in respect of the load capacity and other anticipated requirements.

Selection of Tower Crane – Mounting configurations

Tower Crane are also characterised according to their mounting configuration. They are available as static bases, rail-mounted units and mobile units.

Static bases -There are three main types of static bases.

In-situ base – The crane is mounted on special corner angles, frames or an expendable tower section, cast into the concrete foundation block.
On own base – The crane is mounted on its own base section or chassis which, without wheels and travelling gear, but with ballast, stands on a concrete base.
Climbing base – The crane is supported by the structure which it is being used to construct, and to which it is attached by climbing frames and wedges. The height of the cranes can be extended as the height of the structure increases by means of climbing supports attached to the frames. Climbing support can be metal ladders, rods or tubes. A climbing crane may be mounted initially on a fixed base and its support be later transferred to climbing frames and supports.

Rail-mounted units – The cranes are mounted on a chassis frame which is supported on rail wheels. The wheels are usually double flanged. When all wheels are removed, some tower cranes can be used as static-based cranes

Mobile units – The mobile mounting configuration consists of truck-
mounted, wheel-mounted or crawler-mounted units.

Truck-mounted tower cranes – Tower cranes mounted on truck or lorry chassis are available. It is essential that this type of crane has its outriggers extended. The outriggers should be securely set up and level on its jacks when handling loads.
Wheel-mounted tower cranes – These are not normally self- propelling and may be moved by towing by a suitable vehicle. They are provided with stabilizers or outriggers and jacks which should be set (and the wheels either removed or raised clear of the supporting surfaces) before commencing erection or lifting operations.
Crawler-mounted tower cranes – There are two principal types of crawler bases used on this type of tower cranes. One is a twin- track type which is mounted on one pair of crawler tracks. The crane requires outriggers to be extended and jacks set when handling loads. The other is the straddle-type which is mounted on four widely spaced crawler tracks, each of which can be adjusted to height. Both types of tower cranes should be set firm and level when handling their rated safe working loads. In general, they do not have the same freedom of mobility as for example crawler-mounted mobile cranes. Reference should be made to the crane specification and to the manufacturer regarding conditions under which these machines may travel in their erected state.

Selection of Tower Crane – Jib configurations

The main types of jib used on Tower Crane are horizontal trolley jibs, luffing jibs, fixed-radius jibs, rear-pivoted luffing jibs and articulated jibs.

Horizontal trolley jibs (“A” frame type) – They are held in a horizontal or slightly raised position by tie bars or ropes connected to an “A” frame on the top of the tower crane. The hook is suspended from a trolley which moves along the jib to alter the hook radius. A suitable allowance needs to be made for deflection when calculating the clearance between adjacent cranes

Horizontal trolley jibs (flat top type) – They are connected directly to the tower top and do not require tie bars or ropes connected to an “A” frame. This reduces the overall height of the crane. The hook is suspended from a trolley which moves along the jib to alter the working radius. A suitable allowance needs to be made for deflection when calculating the clearance between adjacent cranes

Luffing jibs – They are pivoted at the jib foot and are supported by luffing cables. The hoist rope which supports the load usually passes over a sheave at the jib head, and the hook radius is altered by changing the angle of inclination of the jib

Fixed-luff jibs – They are also mounted on pivots at the jib foot. Unlike the luffing jibs, these are held by jib-ties at a fixed angle of inclination. On some types, the hook is suspended from the jib head and the hook radius cannot be altered, whereas on others the hook is suspended from a saddle or trolley which travels on the jib

Rear-pivoted luffing jibs – The jib pivot of this type of jib is situated at the top and behind the centre line of the tower and the hook is supported by the hoist rope which passes over a sheave at the jib head

Articulated jibs – The jib has a pivot point somewhere in its middle area. Some models are level-luffing; that is, the hook elevation remains constant as radius changes. It is possible to provide either a trolley or a fixed-location hook or even a concrete pump-discharge line. Articulated jibs are mounted on towers identical to those used with horizontal trolley jibs

Types of tower cranes

Static and mobile Tower Crane are available in a wide variety of types and configurations according to the particular combination of tower, jib and type of base which they employ.

Tower configurations

Tower cranes are available with either fixed or slewing towers. On the fixed tower type the slewing ring is situated at or near the top of the tower and the jib slews about the vertical axle of the stationary tower. The slewing ring on the slewing tower type is situated at the bottom of the tower and the whole of the tower and jib assembly slew relative to the base of the crane. The towers can be further classified as being mono towers, inner and outer towers and telescopic towers.

Mono Towers – The jib is carried by a single tower structure which may be either fixed or slewing. Provision may be made in the design to permit the tower to be extended

Inner and Outer Towers – They are characterised by the jib being carried by a fixed or slewing inner tower which is supported at the top of the fixed outer tower. Provision may be made in the design to permit the outer tower to be extended

Telescopic Towers – The tower structure consists of two or more main sections which nest into each other to enable the height of the crane to be altered without the need for partial dismantling and re-erection. Telescopic towers are usually of slewing type and more common on rail-mounted and mobile tower cranes

Selection of Tower Cranes

Each class of Tower Crane possesses certain basic characteristics which will usually dictate the one most suited to a particular application. Tower cranes must be selected to suit the job. If the crane’s basic characteristics do not match the job’s requirements, unsafe conditions will be created and accidents are prone to happen.

Reference should therefore be made to the following sub-sections 6.2 and 6.3 below for details of different crane types and their operational characteristics.

The type of tower cranes to be used should be considered against the job requirements for a particular application. Points to be considered in making the selection include:

weights and dimensions of loads;

heights of lift and distances/areas of movement of loads;

number and frequency of lifts;

length of time for which the crane will be required;

workplace conditions, including ground conditions for crane standing, and space available for crane access, erection, operation and dismantling; and
any special operational requirements or limitations imposed including the existence of other cranes in close proximity.

Safe Use of Tower Cranes – Responsibilities and Requirements of Personnel

Owner responsibilities Tower Crane

It is the responsibility of owner to ensure that the personnel who prepare the equipment, erect/alter/dismantle it, operate it, and work with it are well trained in both safety and operating procedures.

The owner must ensure erection, dismantling and height alteration operations of every tower crane are carried out by competent workmen under supervision of a competent person and monitoring by a supervising engineer as described in section 10 below.

The owner must ensure that all tower cranes are operated by trained, experienced, competent and qualified crane operators.

The owner and personnel working with a tower crane must also ensure that the personnel who direct, rig and handle the loads have received training in the principles of the operation, are able to establish weights and judge distances, heights and clearances, are capable of selecting tackle and lifting gear as well as rigging method suitable for the loads to be lifted, and are capable of directing the movement of the crane and load to ensure the safety of all personnel.

The owner is responsible for conducting risk assessment for all operations of a tower crane and putting together a crane safety programme and method statements, educating all related personnel in safe practices and the assignment of definite, individual safety responsibilities. The owner must plan all phases of the operations involving the crane.

The owner must ensure maintenance of every tower crane is carried out by inspection and maintenance technicians as described in section 13 below.

The owner must ensure all inspections, examinations and tests for the operations of every tower crane described in section 14 below have been carried out accordingly.

Tower crane operator

The tower crane operator should be responsible for the correct operation of the crane in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and within the safe system of work. He should at any one time only respond to the signals from one slinger/signaller who should be clearly identified. In particular, the tower crane operator should:

have attained the age of 18 years and hold a valid certificate issued by either

the Construction Industry Training Authority before 1 January 2008 or the Construction Industry Council or by any other person specified by the Commissioner for Labour (Regulation 15A(1) of the LALGR);
have been adequately trained in the operation of the type of crane he is
operating and have sufficient knowledge of the crane and its safety devices;
fully understand the duties of the slinger and be familiar with the signal code shown in Table 1 in order to implement safely the instructions of the slinger or signaller; and
fully understand the radio/tele-communication signals between the parties concerned.


The slinger should be responsible for attaching and detaching the load to and from the crane, and for the use of correct lifting gear in accordance with the planning of the operation. In particular, the slinger should:

have attained the age of 18 years;
be fit with particular regard to eyesight, hearing and reflexes;
be agile and have the physique to enable him to handle lifting tackle;
have been trained in the general principles of slinging and be able to establish
weights and judge distances, heights and clearances;
be capable of selecting tackle and lifting gear as well as rigging method suitable for the loads to be lifted;
understand the signal code shown in Table 1 and be able to give clear and precise signals;
be capable of directing the movement of the crane and load in such a manner as to ensure the safety of personnel and plant; and
fully understand the radio/tele-communication signals between the parties concerned.


Where the crane operator of the tower crane does not have a clear and unrestricted view of the load carried by the crane or the point of attachment for a load where no load is being carried and such view is necessary for the safe working of the crane, a signaller shall be employed to relay the slinger’s instructions to the crane operator (Regulation 15B(1) of the LALGR).

The signaller should be responsible for relaying the signal from the slinger to the crane operator. He is also responsible for directing the safe movement of the crane. In particular, he should:

have attained the age of 18 years (Regulation 15B(2) of the LALGR);

be fit with particular regard to eyesight, hearing and reflexes;

understand the signal code shown in Table 1 and be able to transmit the instructions of the slinger in a clear and precise manner; and
be easily identifiable to the crane operator (e.g. by wearing ‘high-visibility’
clothing, or other means).

Safe Use of Tower Cranes – Planning of the Lifting Operation

All lifting operations should be planned to ensure that they are carried out safely and that all foreseeable risks have been taken into account. Tower Crane Planning should be carried out by a competent person appointed for this purpose. In cases of repetitive or routine operations, this planning may only be necessary in the first instance, with periodic reviews to ensure that no factors have changed.

Planning should include the consideration of:

the load such as its characteristics and the method of lifting;

the selection of a suitable crane appropriate to the operation, ensuring that
adequate clearances are maintained between the load and the crane structure;

the selection of lifting gear, the weight of which should be taken into
account when assessing the load on the crane;

the position of the crane and the load before, during and after the operation;

the site of the operation, taking into account proximity hazards, space availability and suitability of the ground or foundation such as the allowable bearing capacity of the ground;
any necessary erection, alteration and dismantling of the crane;

the environmental conditions that exist or may occur at the site of the operation, which may necessitate stopping the operation when conditions are unsuitable; and
the effectiveness of communication among relevant parties, such as that
between the operator and the signaller(s).

Risk assessment

The risk assessment carried out by a competent person as part of the planning process should identify the hazards associated with the proposed lifting operation. The assessment should evaluate the risks involved and the nature and extent of any measures required to mitigate those risks. The competent person should also take into consideration hazards identified by the overall workplace risk assessments.
Generic risk assessments are unlikely to be sufficient since most workplaces have hazards that are unique to that situation and should be taken into account in the separate workplace specific assessment. The results of the risk assessment should be used in the preparation of the method statement for the workplace.
The risk assessment together with the manufacturer’s instructions should then be used to develop a detailed method statement for the lifting operation in the workplace.