Tower cranes

Image of towers cranes on high rise construction site

Tower cranes are an indispensable part of modern high rise construction, however, while reliable and robust, they carry significant hazards.

These hazards include:

  • falling objects
  • structural collapse
  • contact with objects, including powerlines
  • difficult access for treating or rescuing injured workers.

Crane owners, others with management or control of the crane, those performing maintenance and onsite managers  (usually the principal contractor) have obligations under the work health and safety legislation. The following information outlines these obligations and provides guidance.

General requirements

Item and design registration

Plant with a high level risk of harm associated with its operation, use or maintenance, must be registered by the owner, lessee or controller of the plant.  Tower cranes require both design and item registration.

Inspection and maintenance

There are specific laws regarding the major inspection and maintenance of tower cranes.

High risk work licence

A high risk work licence is required for certain types of work, including tower crane operation.

Safety alerts

Risks associated with fires on tower cranes

This alert provides advice to officers and workers of businesses (or other PCBUs) of the potential risks from fires on tower cranes.

Risk of falls from tower cranes

This alert provides guidance to designers, manufacturers, suppliers, installers, operators, and persons with control of sites on how to minimise the risk of falls when using tower cranes.

Erecting, climbing and dismantling tower cranes

This alert highlights the risks associated with erecting, climbing or dismantling a tower crane and the action required by all PCBUs involved in this work.

Position paper

This position paper outlines the expectations in relation to the matters raised by the Coroners in relation to the tower crane fire and collapse at Broadway in 2012 and the death of a crane operator at North Sydney in 2014.

Guidance material

Guide to tower cranes

Safe Work Australia's guide to tower cranes provides information on siting, erecting and using tower and self-erecting tower cranes.

Duties of principal contractors

This guide provides a summary of principal contractor duties in relation to a tower cranes.

Critical faults

This list of critical faults is intended to assist crane crews and those with management or control of operating tower cranes.


This document provides a summary of high level information for consideration throughout the life cycle stages of a tower crane.

Key messages

These key messages were identified following the November 2012 crane fire at Broadway in Sydney. They are relevant to manufacturers and suppliers, but may help crane crews or persons with management or control to work with crane companies to address site issues.


Tower crane maintenance will make your site safer and prevent costly delays.

Mobile communication devices

Using mobile communication devices while operating (or working near) tower cranes can cause distraction. This document outlines the risks and how you can stay safe.