City skylines countrywide now feature tower cranes with large illuminated signage at night, promoting the construction firm and development company responsible for the project. Peter Sachr from Sachr Sign Co., with 45 years experience in the sign industry, is asking, “Is your crane signage safe? Is your crane sign compliant? Are you covered in case of a crane sign accident?”
Scahr has designed, engineered and manufactured for long enough to question signage integrity on tower cranes.
“From what I have seen, most crane signs are not fit for purpose. And from my discussions with crane operators, builders and property developers, it has become apparent that they are not aware their signage is not compliant and lacks proper documentation,” said Sachr.
Multiplex, one of Australia’s leading construction companies, has taken this very seriously. When Rolly Dimitrovski Multiplex’s WH&S Coordinator and Plant Manager became aware of this problem, he took immediate steps to ensure their crane signs were purpose- built, compliant and approved by a licenced structural engineer.
Like Multiplex, others are now discovering that crane signage is unregulated, unlike other highly regulated construction industry aspects.
Sachr said that, in many cases, crane signs are supplied by companies lacking the knowledge and experience for this type of signage.
“I have seen crane signs using 3D fabricated acrylic letters and signage construction using the ‘Jewelite’ plastic
face trim. Illumination using exposed neon glass. These are typically used
for shop fronts and minor illuminated building signs. The Australian distributor does not recommend Jewelite for crane signage,” he said.
George Drakakis is an expert in building litigation and a director of BDW Solutions, a construction consultancy practice.
Drakakis is aware that crane signage is not regulated and that most signage appearing on tower cranes is not fit for purpose. He also explains why the tower crane and construction industries could be facing disaster if standards are not improved.
“The construction industry would be amazed to learn how often parts fall off tower crane signs. It’s not reported because the site could be closed down,” Drakakis said.
“It concerns me that these incidents won’t make the news until a crane sign causes severe injury or a fatality. I agreed to contribute to this article because I believe the personal, financial and legal carnage these crane signs are capable of causing is very real. The whole issue can be avoided if crane signs are purpose- designed, built, and fully certified by a licensed structural engineer.
“If you have a tower crane sign on your building site, you need to ensure Industry standard exterior letter fabrication specifications compared to the Jewelite system being used on many crane signs.
it is fit for purpose, compliant and fully engineer certified. How would you feel if your crane sign caused an injury or death and your company was featured in the nightly six o’clock news and throughout media outlets?
“Let’s take a scenario where a crane sign causes a serious accident. I’ll be asking is, “Who is responsible? Is it the person who ordered the signage, or is it the sign supplier? Is it the company that purchased the sign? Or is it the crane company?
“From a legal perspective, the answer is likely to be every single one of them, including the property owner potentially, will be in the firing line. We have all seen it before. We are in a competitive market, and if a company can save a dollar without fear of breaking regulations and take manufacturing shortcuts, they often will,” he said.
“Tower crane signage must be designed, constructed and installed for its specific use. Unlike signage on the side of a building, crane signage is exposed
to wind, sun, and rain from all angles 24 hours a day. There is also crane vibration and jolting that causes added stress and fatigue to the signage and fixings,” said Drakakis.
“Because nobody has been seriously injured, it all goes under the radar and media attention is avoided. We want to prevent a catastrophic event. When you’re getting signage from people that aren’t giving you proper certification, you are relying on the manufacturer to tell you that all elements of the signage are structurally sound. Manufacturers of signs are not structural engineers, and they’re unable to sign off on the structural integrity of their signage, leaving you at risk.
“How can you ensure your signage is safe and compliant, and you are protected from litigation? When you get signage designs, they have been approved and certified by a licensed structural engineer,’ he said.
“When engineers produce a certificate, they create a document, confirming they have reviewed the design documentation and the signage is compliant, safe, and
fit for purpose. Be warned, as soon as that crane sign fails, you are liable, and your company will be discredited,’ said Drakakis.
“I have been working with Peter at Sachr Sign Co to address this issue. Together, we have developed a ‘checklist’ for every stage of the signage production describing the materials, lettering construction, lettering attachment onto the sign framework, the framework fabrication, and its bolting system onto the crane,” he said.
Peter Sachr was asked what documentation is required to help protect against litigation in the event of a crane sign accident. “I would not allow anyone to install a sign on my crane unless I received a comprehensive set of as-built production designs that have been approved and certified by a licensed structural engineer,” he said.