The progress we can see in construction today is due, among other things, to the development of crane technology. The first ancestors of cranes were devices used already in ancient Rome around 50 AD, e.g. in the Colosseum. The prototype of the crane had a mechanism consisting of a system of ropes and a counterweight raised to a specific height. This allowed up to 20 gladiators to be carried into the arena at the same time. However, the first safe passenger crane, invented by Elish Otis, was not installed until 1857 in a five-storey department store.


A crane, commonly known as a lift or lift, is used to move people or goods efficiently on a platform or cabin. Many cities have had the chance to develop thanks to this type of technology, including Tokyo and Shanghai. Today, lifts are used even in low-rise buildings. Lifts have changed the lives of disabled and elderly people, allowing them to move safely and freely between floors. In the past, the rooms on the top floors were reserved for servants or the poor. Today, thanks to passenger lifts, flats on the top levels are most desirable due to reduced noise levels, more light and better views. Another breakthrough in the development of lifts came with solutions for their acceleration. When the steam engine became too slow, there were high-speed hydraulic lifts introduced by Otis Elevator, the company responsible for the biggest breakthroughs of the time. However, even to this day, it has remained a leader in the elevator industry in the world market. Another technological change was the introduction of electric motors, a solution that was implemented in 1880. Automatic lift doors were also invented in 1880. However, the first electric passenger lift was created in the first decades of the 20th century and is still considered the industry standard today. Today, a lift is a device that is permanently mounted in a metal, glass or masonry structure. It consists of a cabin or platform lifted by a winch.


Based on the application, a distinction is made between passenger, passenger-freight and goods lifts, as well as building, theatre, hospital and special lifts. Taking into account the drive, we can divide them into hydraulic and electric lifts. Hydraulic lifts are driven by a special pump and electric lifts are driven by a winch which is set in motion by a motor.


There are different types of cranes because of their use:

  • Construction - used on construction sites; used for the vertical transport of building materials and people, which takes place in a cabin or on a platform that moves along vertical and sometimes slightly inclined guides.
  • Passenger - these are designed to enable the vertical transportation of people to higher floors in a special cabin that moves along rigid vertical guides.
  • Freight - do not carry passengers in the cab and only serve specific stop levels. They cannot be controlled from inside the cab. They are designed in such a way that they cannot accommodate anything other than the vertically transported load. Also goods lifts, e.g. catering lifts, are lifts without access of persons to the cabin. The reason for this is to ensure health and safety in the food industry. Lifts are also used in the construction industry and in trade.
  • Freight and passenger vehicles, which are used to move goods including those responsible for loading and unloading.
  • Hospital vans are used to transport hospital beds together with medical equipment and persons. They have functions suitable for emergency driving.


Breakdown of lifts by different types:

  • drive - hydraulic and electric cranes
  • construction - single cabin and double cabin
  • construction of drive mechanism - with and without reducer
  • control method - external, internal, adjustable, group, dispatchable
  • shaft construction - hoist with or without engine room, panoramic
  • purpose of the lift - passenger, goods, passenger/freight, building, hospital or special purpose

According to the Decree of the Council of Ministers of 7 December 2012, construction cranes are subject to technical supervision. Any device for work on a construction site must have an up-to-date permit for its operation in order to be used in accordance with the law. The document is issued by the Office of Technical Inspection. It requires a written notification for technical inspection. After the analysis of the document and checking the device by an employee of the unit (in case of a positive result), we receive a decision that allows the operation of a construction crane. This is a temporary permit, which must be renewed. So it's worth keeping a record of all repairs to the crane, as well as any maintenance work. The employee operating the building site crane should first check the technical condition in accordance with the guidelines in the operating instructions. This should include checking the markings, safety devices, control panel, and also the lighting and signalling. The results must be recorded in the logbook. If there are any irregularities, the lift must be stopped and your employer must be informed immediately. Regular maintenance is very important to ensure safe working conditions. It must always be carried out in accordance with the regulations on technical inspection and the lift's operating manual, and the only person authorised to carry out maintenance is a maintenance technician who has the necessary qualifications. UDT authorisations. All activities carried out by the crane technician must be recorded in the maintenance log. Modernisations or repairs can only be carried out by special companies, which are authorised to do so by the Office of Technical Inspection. This guarantees that the crane will not lose its operating licence at the next inspection.


People who operate cranes must complete specialised training and pass an exam in order to obtain a UDT licence. During theoretical and practical classes, various topics are covered, including

  • practics of crane operation
  • operation of lifts in accordance with UDT regulations
  • rights
  • construction of lifts and classification
  • obligations of the operator


Categories of authorisations for cranes granted by the Office of Technical Inspection:

  • D I for building cranes
  • D II for hospital lifts and goods-person lifts with internal control

The invention of the crane has had a significant impact on the development of the modern world. Every day millions of goods and people move around commercial, office, industrial and also residential buildings. Hardly anyone nowadays, when riding a lift, thinks about its history or how our lives would be if it had never been invented. However, it is worth appreciating how lifts make our daily activities easier when we are impatiently waiting for it to come to our floor or for its doors to open.