If you're working on a project where a crane is essential or even just useful, then you may be about to hire one. While cranes make a lot of jobs easier, they can be complex to operate and hard to use safely. Should you hire a crane that comes with an operator, or can you just make do with the crane?

Does the Crane Need a Licence?

Cranes do some dangerous jobs. In some cases, a crane operator needs a high-risk work licence before they should use a crane. For example, you need a licensed operator for tower, vehicle and mobile cranes. Typically, licences are issued for a particular type of crane – one size doesn't fit all here.

Do You Have a Licensed Worker?

If one of your crew holds a licence to use the type of crane you're hiring, then you can simply do a 'dry' hire. This means you hire the crane but won't need to hire an operator as well. You already have someone who is qualified to do this.

Tip: If one of your workers will operate the crane, make sure that their licence is valid and that their training is up to date. Check that they have actually operated a crane since they got their license and that they are comfortable doing this kind of work.

Does the Hire Company Have Operator Conditions?

While some crane hire companies let you hire machines without operators, some won't do this. Some companies only work on a 'wet' hire basis. Here, the crane company includes an operator in the hire agreement.

This ensures that the crane is used correctly and safely by an expert worker. It protects your own workers and your site. From the crane company's perspective, it also makes sure that the crane isn't damaged by an inexperienced operator who doesn't know how to use it properly.

Tip: If you've managed to hire or borrow a crane that doesn't come with a licensed operator, but you need one, then some crane hire companies hire out their own drivers even if you aren't using one of their cranes.

To find out more about your responsibilities, talk to local crane hire companies. They can explain when and why you need to hire an operator with a machine. Remember that an expert operator can work far more efficiently and safely that someone who is learning on the job, so this may save you time and money.