Why you should fully understand the risks of hybrid lifting operations.

February 9, 2023

In the UK, lifting with mobile cranes is almost always undertaken in accordance with the Construction Plant Hire Association (CPA) Best Practice Guide for Crane Hire and Contract Lifting.

The 2 available models defined in that guidance are as follows:

  • CPA Crane Hire – The hiring organisation (customer) hires the crane and operator to work to their instructions. They will: plan the lift, select a suitable crane, specify the slinging and signalling arrangements, supervise the lift and be responsible for the lifting operation.
  • CPA Contract Lift – The hiring organisation requires the contractor to: plan the lift, select a suitable crane, specify the slinging and signalling arrangements, supervise the lift and be responsible for the lifting operation.
Why do Hybrid Lifting Operations occur?

Hybrid lifting operations occur when guidance is not followed and several organisations are involved in developing Safe Systems of Work (SSoW). In these circumstances, it becomes unclear who is the duty holder responsible for planning the lifting operation, as per the requirements of Regulation 8 of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER).

BS 7121 Code of practice for safe use of cranes, part 3: Mobile cranes, and the CPA Technical Information Note 103 advise that hybrid lifting operations should not be undertaken as they may result in ‘Incomplete planning and an ineffective safe system of work’.

Many ‘contract lifts’ in onshore wind involve varying degrees of hybrid lifting. This is where the turbine manufacturer or service provider have a significant or sometimes controlling input into the development of the lifting operations SSoW. This hybridisation of the SSoW often occurs because the crane contractor is not familiar with the necessary undertakings involved. They then rely  on the input from the manufacturer/service operator to dictate the necessary work processes to be undertaken on their equipment.

How do Hybrid Lifting Operations cause complications? 

There have been examples where organisational responsibility for a wind turbine component lifting operation is passed backwards and forwards between parties at different stages. This type of operation does not comply with the requirements of either BS 7121-3 or CPA guidance.

As hybrid operations have been planned in parallel between two or more parties, they may involve the use of employees from several organisations. This introduces further complications regarding which organisation has authority to fully control, supervise and direct safe execution of the required lifting operations.

Hybrid lifting operations can expose the hiring organisation to regulatory risks and liabilities they believe have been contracted out to their competent crane services supplier. In the event of an incident, the involvement that the hiring organisation has had  will likely mean that they are also treated as a duty holder if there are any findings in relation to the inadequacy of the SSoW.

For the purpose of this article, we have quoted the applicable UK legislation, standards and guidance. However, the problems arising from hybrid lifting operations and the ineffective or incomplete planning issues are universal across the wider wind industry. In fact, in countries where crane hire models are not nearly as well defined as given in the CPA guidance, the risks of such hybrid operations are even more significant.

If you are worried about possible exposure to hybrid lifting operations, or if you would like some competent advice on how to eliminate or manage the risks, SRC: Lifting Compliance Services are available to help.

Click here to see our services. 


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