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CICA CEO REPORT: about the Crane Code of Practice

CICA has been working with the NHVR to put together a Mobile Crane Code of Practice, and I wanted to take this opportunity to give some context about what the code means for you as members of our industry.

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What is an Industry Code of Practice?  

Industry codes of practice are documents, created in consultation with members of industry, that identify risks and hazards common to that industry. They provide consistent, authoritative frameworks to mitigate risks to public and private safety by recommending controls for each risk listed in the code. 

An industry code of practice is not a legally binding document, but it can be used as evidence of what members in the Chain of Responsibility (CoR) should know about hazards, risks and controls related to their industry activities.  

What are My Responsibilities? 

The CoRis an existing part of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) that makes parties other than drivers responsible for the safety of heavy vehicles on the road. All parties in the CoR are required to exercise Due Diligence to ensure they comply with all duties under the CoR. 

The CoR recognises that different parties have different levels of influence on the safety of a heavy vehicle on the road. CoR parties for a heavy vehicle each have different functions, different degrees of control over what happens, and different risk profiles. They aren’t all expected to do the same things, or to go the same lengths to ensure safety. Each must still do what is reasonably practicable for them individually to do.  

In the code there are four relevant parties in the CoR for mobile cranes that are not loading or unloading a heavy vehicle. They are 

   The Employer The person or business that employs the driver of a mobile crane. This can include crane hire companies and agencies doing dry hire. 

   The Prime Contractor The person or business that engages the driver of a mobile crane under a contract for services. This includes anyone who hires a crane, for example builders contracting wet hire cranes to work on a job site. 

   The Operator The person or business responsible for directing or controlling the use of a mobile crane. Whoever owns the crane is considered The Operator. It could be a sole owner/driver, or a larger scale crane hire company. 

   The Scheduler A person or business that schedules a mobile crane. This could be someone within the crane company in charge of dictating where and when the cranes are deployed, or a person on a construction site that decides when the crane can arrive.

Note here that The Operator under the Crane Code of Practice does not refer to operators as our industry normally calls them. In the code what we normally call operators (the person who holds the high-risk work licence and heavy vehicle licence to drive and operate the lifting controls of a mobile crane) are instead referred to as Crane Driver/Operator. 

Unless they are loading or unloading a heavy vehicle, an employed Crane Driver/Operator is not a party in the CoR and the Primary Duty does not apply to them. They do need to be trained in systems and procedures to satisfy the requirements of the CoR, and will be involved in the implementation of many of the controls recommended in this code. 

When a mobile crane is used to load or unload a heavy vehicle there are more applicable parties, and Section 12 of the code describes some of the hazards relating to the loading of heavy vehicles using mobile cranes and proposes measures to manage the associated risks. 

In some situations, the same person or business might be employer, operator, and scheduler. In others the employer and operator might be different entities. There may be more than one person or business that is scheduling a crane. 

Exercising Due Diligence 

Exercising Due Diligence as defined by the NHVR means 

   Getting and maintaining knowledge about carrying out transport activities safely 

   Understanding the nature of the business’s transport activities, including the hazards and risks of those activities 

   Ensuring the business has, and uses, the resources needed to eliminate or minimise the hazards and risks created by its transport activities 

   Ensuring the business has, and uses, processes to eliminate or minimise the hazards and risks created by its transport activities – and that information about hazards, risks and incidents is received, considered and responded to quickly. 

If you are an Executive of a business that is a party in the CoR, you have a Due Diligence Duty. It requires executives of businesses in the CoR to ensure that business is complying with the Primary Duty, of ensuring safe transport activities. 

   The term Executive includes an executive officer, a manager, or another person who takes part in the management of a business. It also includes a director of a company and a partner in a partnership.   

Executives overseeing a business relevant to the activities and hazards listed in the code have a duty to familiarise themselves with the contents of the code. 

The Primary Duty requires a party in the CoR to ensure the safety of its transport activities in relation to a heavy vehicle. It is a duty to eliminate public risk so far as is reasonably practicable, and if a risk cannot be eliminated then to minimise the risk. It also includes the risk of damage to property, including vehicles and loads, damage to road infrastructure, and harm to the environment. 


Each party in the CoR must spend a proportionate amount of time, effort, and resources, to meet their obligations to the Primary Duty. What is or is not proportional is weighed against the function a party performs, the public risk created by its activities, and its capacity to control, eliminate or minimise the risk. 

Using The Industry Code of Practice  

You should choose the controls, or combination of controls, from the Crane Code that will eliminate each risk. If it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate a risk, you must take measures to minimise it. You also need to manage other hazards and risks in your business that are not identified by the code.   

You do not have to use every control recommended by the code. 

You can use different controls altogether, provided you can show that they eliminate or minimise risk just as well as those recommended by the code.  Differences between businesses will mean different risk profiles, and variation in how practicable some control measures will be to implement. When considering implementing a control measure the assessment must be based on what a reasonable member of the community would think is proportional relative to the seriousness of the risk or hazard, not what is convenient to the business. 

A code of practice is not exhaustive. There may be additional risks and hazards not identified. For unidentified risks, members of the CoR must take proactive steps to mitigate them. 

It also isn’t intended to be a step-by-step manual for actions needed to be taken to satisfy your legal requirements. It’s an enormously valuable resource, and I strongly suggest you take the time to read through it.  

Brandon Hitch

Chief Executive Officer

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