Seasonal safety: operating cranes in high winds 

As winter approaches and high winds become more common, crane safety becomes a pressing concern. Operating a crane in extreme weather presents serious dangers to workers and bystanders – from falling loads and collisions to overturned equipment – so it’s important to train your team on responsible machinery use.   

To protect staff and customers as the seasons change, check out our guide to safe loading and unloading in unpredictable weather. 

  • Carry out a site assessment – Conduct a comprehensive site assessment to pinpoint wind-related dangers. These might include buildings, power lines, racking, and large structures that could obstruct wind flow and affect crane stability. Tall buildings, for example, can create a vortex effect that increases wind speeds as air travels upwards. 
  • Monitor weather forecasts – Keep a close eye on weather forecasts and be prepared to suspend work if high winds are predicted.
  • Stick to the crane’s load limits – No vehicle should be loaded beyond its rated capacity or legal limit of gross weight. If you don’t know the load’s weight, multiply the estimated weight by an appropriate factor (typically 1.5).
  • Adhere to manufacturer’s wind speed limits – Always comply with wind speed limits outlined in your crane manufacturer’s guidance. These restrictions differ according to crane size and type, so follow instructions specific to your equipment.
  • Monitor wind gusts – Sudden bursts of wind are particularly hazardous. If gusts cause the crane to sway or the load to swing uncontrollably, pause operations until conditions are safer. 
  • Consider power line safety – Strong winds can cause unexpected contact with power lines, even when working in a seemingly safe position. Place the crane as far away as possible from power lines, in a spot where you can see the load path. Ensure the crane remains outside the exclusion zone when the boom is fully extended.
  • Create a balanced load – Maintain stability by adjusting the crane’s ballast in line with manufacturer’s guidelines. Similarly, make sure all materials are correctly secured to avoid swinging or shifting during loading or unloading.  
  • Lower the boom position – Lowering the boom makes the crane less vulnerable to wind, so aim to keep it as close to the ground as safe operation will allow. 
  • Use a wind sensor – A handheld or tripod-mounted anemometer can be used alongside the crane to measure wind speed and direction throughout loading and unloading, helping operators remain within safe limits.   

Questions about crane safety? Ask an Opus consultant 

Compliant crane operation is a fundamental part of your builders merchant safety strategy – and just one of your key concerns as we head into the colder months. For targeted staff training, risk assessments, and health and safety guidance to ensure an incident-free winter, speak to an Opus specialist. 

We’re waiting to help on 0330 043 4015 and