Press Release: Quay Cranes Safety Recommendations Formalised

Three industry bodies have produced joint research and published safety specifications for container quay cranes.  Experts, working from TT Club insurance claims records and with combined operational experience, recommend minimum standard safety features to promote safety.

London, 9


June, 2011

The 'Recommended Minimum Safety Specifications for Quay Container Cranes' document has been released during a safety workshop at TOC Europe 2011 in Antwerp. Published jointly by property, equipment and liability insurance provider TT Club, the Port Equipment Manufacturers Association (PEMA) and ICHCA International, the recommendations are the first such publication by the three parties. Born out of the Club's claims experience, the research has drawn together a formidable group of operational engineering experience from around the globe, particularly through the ICHCA International Safety Panel, to identify solutions to common problems that jeopardise safety on the waterfront.

The parties launched the initiative on crane safety in late 2009 to establish a baseline standard of safety specifications. The publication profiled at TOC Europe this week calls for a new approach to the crane procurement process in order to recognise safety as an integral part of operational decisions that will minimise exposure to injury, damage and disruption costs over the life cycle of the equipment.

As John Strang, the Chairman of ICHCA International, noted at the outset of the project, "Inevitably, crane procurement is price sensitive and requires significant budget. However, buyers will not always be familiar with the most effective safety technologies," he said. "Furthermore," continued Strang, "The process of specification is complex; any quote needs to be carefully assessed against the invitation to tender, and subsequent change requests can be costly. For all these reasons, there should be a standard safe baseline provided in every tender to ensure the industry has the safest cranes possible."

The recommended minimum safety features directly address the causes of accidents and failures identified by TT Club from its claims records. These include:

  • Damage caused by high winds

While the Club in 2009 published its handbook covering the general risks arising from high winds, 'WindStorm II - Practical risk management guidance for marine & inland terminals', it has been clear that design features play an important part in minimising exposure to this type of loss. Non-technical people would be surprised at the 'sail effect' inherent in the 'Meccano-like' structures. There are innumerable instances of cranes being blown along the rails, often colliding with neighbouring cranes, or being dislodged from the rails, generally leading to structural collapse.

While extreme conditions cannot be entirely precluded, the recommended baseline functional requirement includes details for driven braking system and anemometer design, including practical operational controls to facilitate appropriate shutdown of the crane. Further losses can be prevented through the installation of storm pins on both waterside and landside, and crane tie-downs on each corner of the crane - with appropriately positioned and engineered anchor points in the terminal apron.

  • Damage caused by collision

Accident statistics clearly demonstrate that collisions are a surprisingly recurrent problem. Most commonly, it is the boom of the crane that impacts a ship's superstructure, leading to damage to both the ship and the boom, resulting in substantial repair costs and consequent downtime. TT Club has for a number of years recommended the installation of radar or laser electronic sensors. This proven technology, integrated appropriately into the operational systems, allows the crane to come to a 'normal' stop prior to impact.

  • Risk of fire

The incidence of fires in quay gantry cranes is low, certainly compared with mobile terminal equipment. However, the position of control machinery high up on the crane structure presents a considerable challenge to most port fire response services. Thus, it is important to install temperature and smoke detection systems and provide appropriate alarms for all relevant operational staff. Fully automatic fire suppression is also recommended.

  • Damage caused by snagged loads

A constant operational concern, that from time to time leads to major accidents, relates to the potential damage to the crane structure or lifting system when a container or spreader is jammed during lifting operations. Apart from the potential to damage the ship's cell guides or other structures, the risk to the crane itself is obvious as - in extremis - it attempts to lift the ship out of the water. Detection and safety protection is necessary to prevent the excess of designed load in the lifting system. Related to this is the emergence of load sensing technology that can accurately measure the actual weight and eccentricity of each container, as well as provide warning of snag loads.

The intention is for suppliers to include as standard, not optional, the baseline of safety features on this list in all their quotations for container quay cranes. Terminals and buyers are also recommended to incorporate such requirements in their tender specifications. In many instances the safety features identified can be retrofitted to existing equipment. This publication aims to contribute to protecting the substantial asset investment and minimising the costs associated with any type of accident.

Having brought together manufacturers, insurance interests and operational users, the tripartite collaboration has reaffirmed the longer term aim to establish similar international baseline safety standards for all types of port and terminal equipment.

The TT Club is the international transport and logistics industry's leading provider of insurance and related risk management services. Established in 1968, the Club's membership comprises ship operators, ports and terminals, road, rail and airfreight operators, logistics companies and container lessors. As a mutual insurer, the Club exists to provide its policyholders with benefits, which include specialist underwriting expertise, a world-wide office network providing claims management services, and first class risk management and loss prevention advice.For further information please contact:
Emma Chalmers, Marketing Manager
TT ClubTel:  +44 (0)20 7204 2635Email:

Media contact:
Peter Owen, ISIS Communications
Tel: +44 (0)1737 248300
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Staff Author

TT Club