Safety Code Mobile Cranes

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Safety Code Mobile Cranes

I have hinted that there are problems with the safety code for mobile cranes in previous articles. I have also had numerous discussions with those in the crane industry about what exactly is implied by the way Alberta occupational health and safety (OH&S) adopted CSA Z150. The part that is specifically confusing people is how OH&S wants us to handle articulating cranes.  I was hoping that the new z150 and new OH&S code would solve this problem but I am getting tired of waiting the 5+ years for them to fix this issue.

In Canada, the flow of authority over the crane industry comes first from OH&S’ legislative power to make and enforce safety decisions. OH&S generally specifies one or more codes to follow for each topic that go into greater details on who, what and why. In the case of mobile cranes, OH&S specifies CSA Z150 for everyone to follow. However, there are a few additional clauses which is where the confusion is coming from.

So What Does The OH&S Code Say?

Safety code for mobile cranes 88 – A mobile crane must meet the requirements of CSA Standard CAN/CSAZ150-98 (R2004), Safety Code on Mobile Cranes with the exception of clauses 1.6 and 1.7.

It is referring to clause 1.6 and 1.7 of the CSA Z150 code which states the following:


This standard does not apply to:

  • Machines within the scope that have been converted or adapted for uses not considered to be lifting (hoisting) services. These conversions and applications include power shoves, excavators, draglines concrete pumps, conveyors, augers, drills and amusement rides.
  • Articulating boom (knuckle boom) cranes
  • Hydraulic and cable-operated excavating equipment, such as power shovels and backhoes;
  • Automotive wreckers and tow trucks designed to clear wrecks and haul vehicles
  • Railway cranes, locomotive-mounted cranes, and rail-mounted cranes
  • Side boom tractors, as used in pipeline work, to which ASME standard B30.14



Where “shall” is used in this Standard, it indicates a mandatory requirement. Where “Should” is used it indicates a recommendation, the advisability of which depends on the situation.

Why Is This Confusing?

I find this confusing for three reasons.

(1) First, you really need both the OH&S code and the Z150 code in front of you to interpret this correctly. The OH&S code is freely published online and the Z150 code costs some money to purchase. The most valuable information is in the Z150 code so that tends to be what people focus on and not the 1 page of information on cranes in the OH&S code. In addition if you are not constantly dealing with OH&S, its not totally clear that the chain of command goes from OH&S to Z150 and not exclusively to Z150.

(2) The double negative of excluding the clause that states Z150 does not apply to articulating cranes is about as difficult to read and comprehend as it gets. I find it also a little strange that OH&S excludes a clause relating to fork lifts from Z150 but only in respect to mobile cranes. Compounding this problem is Z150 itself is written with the exclusion of articulating cranes so there is no mention of them or any of their unique features in Z150. This in itself leaves a lot of clauses open to interpretation on how they apply to articulating cranes if they are written with a traditional stiff boom in mind. If the goal is to get people compliant, then writing this in a clearer and simpler way would make more sense. I think everyone recognizes this statement as being confusing because in the explanation they re-write this part to just simply say “mobile articulating cranes need to follow Z150”.

(3) Lastly, the province of BC clearly adopts the ASME B30.22 instead of Z150 with reference to articulating cranes. ASME B30.22 is the American version of the articulating crane code. I don’t specifically have anything against this code its just the inconsistency that is causing a problem. A lot of the equipment in Alberta travels back and forth to BC and many of the industry professionals recall being caught with equipment compliant in Alberta but not in BC and the hassle that has caused. Why does BC choose to adopt ASME B30.22 instead of CSA Z150.3? (the Canadian articulating crane code) I am not entirely sure.

All of these issues have led to confusion about what procedure we should be using. There is a discrepancy with vendors encouraging their customers to be BC compliant just in case and with the code in Alberta not being very clear, industry practice is not in-line with the code.

Why Does it Matter what OH&S and Z150 Say?

Well it matters because by law you have to be compliant with OH&S. OH&S is indicating your articulating crane needs to be compliant to a code that in no way mentions anything about an articulating crane. The specific topic that often comes up in my business is whether or not articulating cranes require a 10 year teardown. The current Z150 code indicates cranes require a more detailed inspection at the 5 and 10 year marks but the articulating crane codes do not mention this. I will leave it up to you guys to purchase the Z150-98 and the B30.22 codes if you want to read more about the specific differences.