Appropriate use of crane design standards

Article published in the Regulator | Issue 2: 2019

Offshore lifting operations are inherently high risk, and the controls for crane operations reflect this with the use of competency management systems and advanced control systems for operators. One of the additional controls is the use of codes and standards put in place to ensure cranes are designed and manufactured with required safety features for use in offshore operations.

Pedestal cranes are used for lifting operations on facilities offshore as well as vessel to facility transfer, subsea construction operations and lifting operations. Their design and functionality are specified in international standards issued by the American Petroleum Institute (API), International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) and the European Normalised Standards. There are also classification society standards that cover the design of pedestal cranes on vessel facilities.

The European Normalised Standards, for example, include methods, procedures and guidelines to ensure that dynamic forces unique to offshore lifting operations, are included in the design assessment. Dynamic forces include lifting a load from a moving vessel, loads imparted on the crane with vessel movements, loads imparted on a crane from extreme environmental factors such as a cyclone and loads imparted during an emergency.

Standards Australia has a suite of standards that cover design parameters for cranes. However, facility operators should be aware that these standards do not include specific design and functional requirements for pedestal cranes operating in an offshore environment. This may result in the designer of the crane not allowing for sufficient strength in the crane structure to withstand complex and dynamic loadings on the crane in normal offshore operation. The Australian Standards also exclude offshore transfers of personnel using a transfer basket such as a FROG or Billy Pugh, and have no guidance on the design of systems to prevent catastrophic damage to the whole crane during rigging entanglement.

It is important that operators reference suitable design standards for pedestal cranes to be used offshore. The referenced standards should provide appropriate details to crane designers to enable cranes to be designed to withstand risks and hazards unique to the offshore environment. NOPSEMA also recommends that operators consider involving suitably qualified and experienced crane and lifting subject matter experts when selecting a lifting device.

For more information about crane design standards, visit or contact the equipment manufacturer.