Doubts over new crane log
The HSE’s new tower crane register came into force on 6 April amid widespread doubts over its safety benefits and scope. Under the regulations, contractors must notify the HSE of any conventional tower cranes installed on sites within 14 days of their thorough examination.
They must also give the site address, the name and address of the crane’s owner, technical details of the crane, the date of the thorough examination, plus any defects that pose a risk of serious injury (see box for details). The register will then be available for public inspection.
But contractors, who are now registering their cranes, question the logic of keeping a log of cranes that are already erected, without enforcing higher safety standards during erection, dismantling and use. They claim other measures, such as targeting the competency of individuals working on cranes or integrating crane safety into the CDM regulations, would be preferable.
“Most crane failures are related to erection and dismantling,” said a spokesman for the CIOB’s Health & Safety Advisory Committee. “There’s no requirement to do anything differently, all you’re doing is keeping a log several days after the crane has gone up. In all the consultation responses I saw, no one thought it would improve the safety of cranes on site.”
In his view, the chief benefit would be that HSE inspectors could check any new cranes they saw against the register and investigate any that were unregistered.
James Carpenter, a site manager at Kier, added his doubts. “The erection of a tower crane is generally a well planned event involving detailed inspections, but in my experience it’s the subsequent use of sundry equipment such as chains and skips, which are frequently changed during a job, that really need regular checks and can cause serious accidents.”
Jonathan Edwin, business manager at Scafftag, is concerned that focusing attention on the tower cranes register could be at the expense of subsequent inspections: “Inspections remain a legal requirement and companies should still ensure best practice when it comes to inspecting tower cranes to ensure the safety of workers and the public,” he said.
In its response to the HSE consultation on the register, the CIOB questioned whether a new set of regulations was warranted when registration could be incorporated into existing CDM paperwork. At the start of work on site, contractors fill in an F10 notification for the HSE, detailing the names of the clients and the construction team. As the system allows for later submissions, for example when subcontractors start on site, details of cranes could be added later.
However, Richard Webber, Keir’s safety, health & environment manager, backs a standalone system to promote crane safety: “Most people don’t see this as a family member of CDM, and it works in the same way that lifting operations and lifting equipment regulations are separate from CDM,” he said.
But most of the industry will be watching implementation of the register with a degree of scepticism.
“When we’re two years down the road, I think a new government will look back and see whether it’s been effective, or if it’s had any benefit,” said the CIOB committee member.
The new regulations:
- place the duty to notify on the employer
- require notification of the relevant information within
- 14 days of the thorough examination of the crane
- require cranes already erected when the Regulations come into force to be registered within 28 days
- allow electronic notification via the HSE website.
Details that will have to be notified to HSE are:
- the site address where the tower crane is being used
- the name and address of the crane owners/lessors
- details needed to identify the crane
- the date of its thorough examination
- details of the employer for whom the examination was made
- whether any defects posing a risk of serious injury were detected.
The register will be open to public scrutiny. Notifications will be subject to an administration fee of £20.
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