Incident Report - Noumea, New Caledonia

Contributed by Universal Cranes, New Caledonia

In November 2014, employees of Universal Cranes New Caledonia loaded up the crane counterweights and hook blocks on a subcontractor’s trailers in Noumea. The two trailers were being prepared for an 80t crane and a 130t crane in preparation for a 270km road journey to Koniambo, north of Noumea.

A short way into the journey, as the trucks were approaching a set of traffic lights, the lights changed to red, and the driver of one of the trucks applied the brakes suddenly. This action caused each of the counterweights and the hook blocks to separate from the restraint straps and slide forward on top of the trailer, hitting the rear of the front cab. Two counterweight slabs fell on the road as did the 5-sheave hook from the 130t crane.

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The truck cab was crushed inward into the driver’s cab resulting in minor injuries to the truck driver. As a result, the counterweights needed to be repainted, a guide pin on one of the counterweights snapped off, and the 5-sheave hook block was left out of order, leaving the 130t crane with only a 20t capacity hook block to complete lifts.

Several factors contributed to the occurrence of this incident. Most importantly, there was inadequate load restraint for the type and weight of the load. The counterweights and hook blocks had been restrained with tie-down straps only.

Key learnings from this incident

  • Clear written instruction needs to be provided to the transport subcontractor on how individual loads are to be restrained, including drawings of the type of restraint required and how many tie-down and attachment points. In Australia, the Load Restraint Guide 2018 should be referred to.

  • All loads, fixing points and tie downs are to be inspected by a supervisor prior to departure and again 10km into the journey.

  • All loads need to be restrained in accordance with National Transport Commission Load Restraint Guide (or local equivalent). In this example, chains and rubber matting should have been used to increase friction and provide direct restraint for the load.

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