Recommended Practices for Telescopic Hydraulic Gantry Systems was approved last month by a task force of the Specialised Carriers & Riggers Association. The association distributing the document of recommended practice either this month or next, according to Beth O’Quinn, SC&RA vice president, crane & rigging – a decision had not been taken. A price has not yet been set.

Although the SC&RA makes it clear the document is not a standard, it is likely to be treated as such by the industry. First, the document expresses an industry consensus. Second, no other guidance on using gantries exists (apart from manufacturers’ manuals, which are specific to each machine). For these reasons, OSHA may well be used for enforcement purposes – to prosecute a hydraulic gantry operator who did not follow the guidelines. For this reason, they will become required reading for users of gantries in the USA.

The document is in fact the second code of practice the association has formulated. The first – in 1996 – did not include input from any of the major manufacturers – largely because of rivalries between them. Eight years on, a younger generation seems to feel differently. Sitting for Lift Systems was Brian Wagner, for Riggers was Bruce Forester, for J & R Engineering Kevin Johnston. The task force also included users Randall Goddard of Atlas Industrial Contractors, Earl Swan of LiftEquip, engineers David Duerr of 2DM and Bruce Burt of Ruby & Associates and Beth O’Quinn of the SC&RA.

The guideline was developed in response to pressure from the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA requested the association develop its own guidelines – or OSHA would treat gantries as cranes, and put them under the regulations currently being developed in the USA by the C-DAC committee.

Although the guidance says that all lifts need to be planned, it singles out certain lifts for consultation with gantry manufacturer or professional engineer: where lifted load is greater than 70% of rated capacity and upper stages of the gantry leg will be used; where the firmness of the ground is unknown; the load’s centre of gravity is unknown; the crew is inexperienced; the lift is to be performed near power lines; the lift is near an overhead crane; if outdoors and there is the possibility of high winds; where the gantry travels, track support is non-uniform along the travel length or where the track is not continuously supported.

The guidelines shy away from recommending manufacturer-approved training schemes for lift supervisors and gantry operators, but do say they should attend training programmes. They also say what sort of ability gantry operators, lift supervisors and lift planners need to have in order to be competent. Where four or more legs are used, the guidelines say that the lift supervisor and gantry operator roles need to be performed by two different people.

The guidelines explains how more complicated operations work, including stand up/lay over, side shift, multiple beam lifts and combination lifts.

It says that gantries should be levelled to 1/8 inch (32 mm) in 10 ft (3.3m) in the travel direction, to 1/8 inch across a width equal to the gauge of the gantry leg, and parallel within 1/4 inch, in absence of manufacturers’ recommendations. It also gives track alignment minimum criteria.

Manufacturers should test load a representative sample gantry to 100% rated capacity (but not more).

Also included in the guidelines are diagrams of common gantry set-ups, pre-lift planning checklist and task list, a maintenance check-list, and definitions.