Tower cranes critical faults

This document is intended to assist crane crews and those persons with management or control of operating tower cranes.

It contains a list of faults which, if identified by the operator during an inspection or crane operation, are considered to warrant the immediate make safe and shut down of the crane until clearance to resume operation is given by a competent person.

Depending on the fault this clearance may be based on a diagnosis from a competent person with the crane company that operation can continue as is, or may require a site inspection, or repair / part replacement.

Note, the list does not include:

  • design issues or issues such as structural rust which occur over long periods of time and should be identified and considered at servicing and higher level inspections.
  • issues such as flat battery on communication equipment or topping up of fluid from normal use that can be addressed on site
  • other issues that would by their very nature stop the crane, ie engine or power failure.

List of critical faults

Tower and other structural members including boom

  • Loose holding down bolts
  • Missing connection bolt(s) or pins
  • Impact, eg from another crane or mobile plant or crane hitting a structure, that has caused visible damage.
  • Damaged crane ties, eg following an impact or storm damage.


  • Malfunctioning slew drive or slew brake
  • Slew limits, if fitted, not functioning.


  • Malfunction of hoist or brake(s)
  • Rope damage, condemnable
  • Sheave damage, condemnable
  • Any hoist limit malfunction, eg anti two block
  • Hook or swivel damage, condemnable.

Luff, where fitted

  • Malfunction of luff hoist or brake(s)
  • Rope damage, condemnable
  • Sheave damage, condemnable
  • Any luff limit malfunction, eg buffer limit.

Trolley travel, where fitted (ie non luffing cranes)

  • Travel limits malfunctioning, including deceleration limits, where fitted.
  • Rope damage, condemnable
  • Sheave damage, condemnable
  • Trolley wheels/ bearings malfunctioning.

Hydraulic system, where fitted

  • Hydraulic fluid leaks, other than minor weeping between connectors or around seals on hydraulic cylinders.
  • Bulge or cracking of a hose.
  • Fluid below minimum level, where unexplainable, as indicates a possible serious leak.

Controls, limiters and indicators (where fitted)

  • E stop malfunction
  • Load indicator malfunction (ie outside manufacturer’s calibration tolerance)
  • Radius indicator malfunction
  • Overload protection system malfunctioning (ie outside manufacturer’s calibration tolerance)
  • Engine indicators or warning devices malfunctioning.

Fire extinguisher or extinguishing system

  • Extinguisher or system missing, discharged or otherwise non-functional, except where a redundant (eg duplicate) extinguisher or system remains operational.


Industry plant consultative committee comprising WorkCover, the Master Builders Association of NSW and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union.

Catalogue No.WC01715 © Copyright WorkCover NSW 0315