Crane safety in construction

How do we better understand the causes and prevention of crane related incidents in NSW?

What is this research about?

This research investigated the causes of crane related incidents and the approaches that have been successfully implemented to prevent them in the construction industry.

The project gathered data from a variety of sources, both quantitative and qualitative, as well as a systematic review of the literature which covers the safety outcomes for crane activities.

Collectively, these data has informed a robust set of evidence-based actions to prevent further serious injuries and fatalities relating to cranes.

Timeline of project

This project has been completed. The research is currently undergoing scientific review for publication, you can learn more about this work in our research summary.

What did the researchers look at?

The researchers developed a literature review to inform the exploratory phase of the research project. The literature review addressed:

  • Leading WHS causation frameworks
  • Causal factors and prevention strategies, programs and/or approaches related to crane-related incidents in the construction industry and involving fixed and mobile cranes

The researchers also captured qualitative data from key industry informants through focus groups, surveys and interviews, about the relevance of the causal factors and prevention strategies identified in the literature review.  These informants included experts from within:

  1. The workplace (e.g., licence holders, crane operators, dogmen, riggers, business owners, suppliers)
  2. The industry (e.g. RTO, assessors, unions)
  3. The regulatory entity (e.g., inspectors, investigators. policy makers)

Finally, the researchers also examined SafeWork NSW crane incident data to identify trends with industries and understand the worker, crane and environmental characteristics associated with crane incidents in NSW.


The research showed that most crane safety incidents occurred within the construction industry, with the highest representation involving mobile and towers cranes. To explore other crane incident data, please visit our interactive crane data page.

Identified factors contributing to crane safety incidents at multiple levels within the work systems were compiled and contributed to the crane safety incident causation model.

To address these incident rates, four key areas of work were identified when combining the collected data:

  • Workforce competence
  • Supply arrangements, communication and planning
  • Industry and regulatory environment
  • Equipment design, maintenance and use

Industry experts, as part of the interviews, also identified strategies that could assist in preventing safety incidents involving cranes.

The information captured through this project should be considered by industry to improve the safe use of cranes in the Australian construction industry.

Research partners and stakeholders

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

Want to know more?

To work with the Centre, or stay up to date with our research, head to our Engage with us page.