A crane is a plant item used to: 

  • raise or lower a load 
  • move a load horizontally. 

Cranes can be: 

  • fixed (tower, bridge, gantry, portal boom and vessel-mounted) 
  • mobile (slewing, non-slewing and vehicle loading). 

Some powered mobile plant, like telescopic handlers, can be used as cranes. 

As a person conducting a business or undertaking, you have a duty to keep workers and your workplace safe from the risks of cranes. Everyone must work together to ensure cranes are both safe to use and used safely.  

Choosing a crane 

Choosing the right crane is not just important for getting the job done. It also affects worker safety.  

Some cranes must be registered, and you need a high risk work licence to operate most. 

Before you choose a crane, discuss your needs with suppliers. They can help you find the best crane for your workplace and the work. 

These are some things to consider when choosing a crane: 

  • how old it is. 
  • how long you will keep it. 
  • how often you will use it. 
  • the conditions in which you will use the crane. 
  • the maximum loads the crane will bear. 
  • whether you need a crane only or you also need a trained and licensed crew. 

Some of the things to look for on the crane include: 

  • safe access points – ladders, footholds, steps and grabs rails 
  • seat design – comfort and back support 
  • visibility – mirror, window and windscreen design 
  • environmental controls – temperature control units to avoid worker heat stress. 

With any crane, you have work health and safety (WHS) duties and must identify and manage risks

Tower cranes

Tower cranes have their own model Code of Practice

Safe Work Australia crane licensing review 

In May 2021, WHS ministers agreed to Recommendation 33 of the 2018 Review of the model WHS laws to review high risk work crane licence classes, to ensure they remain relevant to contemporary work practices and equipment.

Between May and June 2022, Safe Work Australia sought stakeholder views on high risk work licensing for cranes through the release of a discussion paper.

The submissions received are available on our online consultation platform, Engage

Read the crane licensing review progress update following the closure of the crane licensing review consultation in June 2022.

Stay updated

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The interactive safe work method statement (SWMS) tool provides information on preparing, using and reviewing SWMS for high risk construction work.