Operating Mobile Cranes in Severe Weather Conditions

Back to blog

Operating Mobile Cranes in Severe Weather Conditions

Operating Mobile Cranes in Severe Weather Conditions


Become familiar with the precautions we take when severe weather shows up at the job site.


Recently we wrote an article about all the uses and benefits of mobile cranes but at Can Ridge Industries, one of our core values is safety, so we wanted follow up with a precautionary note related to working around cranes in inclement weather. Just like any other activity that takes place outdoors, one must always be aware of the changing weather patterns and know when it’s time to take a break on site and respect Mother Nature.


Can a Mobile Crane be Utilized in High Winds?


All equipment manufacturers come with operation recommendations which will often touch on wind specifics. First and foremost, our operators will always follow the recommendations attached to the machine, but if we are on a job site and notice highwinds, we will immediately take action.

When it comes to operating in high winds, there are several factors that we will consider. The first is the height of the lift. As an operator lifts an object higher, the strength of the wind typically increases, especially if there are obstructions on the ground around the work site. Just because it doesn’t feel overly windy at ground level does not mean that there are not strong gusts a little higher in the air.

The next thing we consider is surface area. The human body does not have a large surface area compared to, let’s say, an HVAC unit. Once the HVAC unit is lifted into the air, a greater wind force will be exerted against it because it has more area for the wind to push against.


The Most Powerful Tool Against Wind


The most powerful safety tool on site is common sense. We will always speak up if we think the conditions are too windy to safely work alongside a mobile crane or other heavy machinery. We will recommend postponing lifting if winds are gusting past 30 km/h.


Is It Safe to Be Close to a Crane in a Storm?


If there is visible lightning or thunder is audible, no one should be raising metal objects into the sky- such as a mobile crane. This may seem like common sense but there are severe accidents every year involving lightning strikes and outdoor workers. Before heading out for the day, we will check the weather patterns. If there are heavy storms forecasted for the area, it may be best to postpone work for the day. Our crane operators will immediately lower the boom as much as possible on any crane if lightning appears. At this point everyone should get far away from all metal machinery, waiting the storm out in an area of safety.


Always Be Aware of the Current Conditions


Just because there was no storm in the forecast does not mean we are in the clear. If we detect rapid changes in humidity, temperature or wind speeds, it is best to ensure all cranes are lowered, keeping all employees far from the machinery until the weather has stabilized.


What Happens When Job Sites Become Cold?


With our headquarters in British Columbia, Canada, we are no strangers to the cold. Mobile cranes are quite hearty when it comes to frigid conditions but when the temperatures dive into the negatives, safety should be top of mind.

When the temperature dips below -15 degrees Celsius, we begin to pay extra close attention to our equipment. Sudden impact or shock to the crane should be avoided in cold temperatures, with extra caution applied when hydraulic components are operating. Can Ridge operators will often consider derating by 25% in these conditions and everyone on site should keep a close eye on the physical effects of the cold on the body. If an operator is too cold, they cannot safely operate a mobile crane.

If we are working in the North, temperatures may drop below -30 degrees Celsius. At this temperature, cranes are often derated by 40% for all lifts and regular check in’s with all personnel need to be conducted to avoid wind chill and frostbite. If temperatures are below -40 degrees Celsius, the safest option is to postpone the required work for the day.


Operating Cranes in Heavy Snow, Rain and Fog


The largest safety issues encountered with precipitation are visibility and traction. If snow, rain or fog inhibits any of the working members on a job site from seeing any of the machinery or lifting locations, crane operation should be halted immediately. In order to lift and place assets in a safe manner, visibility must not be an issue. It can be difficult to effectively measure visibility but again, common sense is a powerful tool here. The physical and financial risks are too high to operate when visibility is an issue.

Rain and snow can also make a job site slippery and unstable. If snow, sleet or rain is present, extra care must be taken not to fall when moving around the site. Also remember that if it has rained earlier in the day, the ground underneath may not be stable. This is a massive issue for crane operation- never occupy the area around a mobile crane when the earth underneath of it is not stable.

There are just some of the points our Can Ridge team takes into consideration any time we are on a job site. Give our team a call if you ever have any questions in regards to our cranes! Rain or shine, you can count on Can Ridge.

Contact our team today!