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New tower crane rescue guidance from the CPA

Revised guidelines on the Rescue of Personnel from Tower Cranes will shortly be published by the Construction Plant-Hire Association with the aim of clarifying the obligations on contractors and plant hire companies.

The guidelines cover the rescue of tower crane operators, maintenance crew, inspectors carrying out thorough examinations and other authorised personnel, but not trespassers.

Drawn up by the CPA’s Tower Crane Interest Group, the revised guidelines now state that the local fire and rescue service should always be consulted when drawing up rescue plans.

Emergy services drive change

This change comes after consultation with the fire and rescue services suggested that such incidents are occurring more frequently and that many regions have specially trained crews to deal with this type of emergency.

CPA senior manager Kevin Minton told CN: “Nothing in this revised document changes the legal responsibilities on both the principal contractor and hire company or crane owner to plan for such emergencies and we would urge them to do so before work begins on site. 

“When a crane is being erected, dismantled or climbed, it is reasonable for the responsibility to fall to a greater extent on the hire company or owner.

“An incapacitated worker may or may not be able to walk down the ladders, they may need medical assistance, while other factors may mean it is essential to move them immediately”

Kevin Minton, CPA

“But during normal day-to-day operations the responsibility for planning and executing any rescue rests with the principal contractor. Our recommendation is that before getting on site, the principal contractor draws up rescue from height plans that take into account all possible scenarios.

“For instance, an incapacitated worker may or may not be able to walk down the ladders, they may need medical assistance before they can be moved, while other factors may mean it is essential to move them immediately.

“All of these scenarios need to be considered. And if the local fire and rescue services indicate they would not be able to assist in such an emergency, the contractor needs to investigate other means of rescue and should seek the advice of the tower crane supplier.”

Bespoke method required

The new guidelines state that details of the rescue plan should be recorded in a method statement, which should be specific for each type and model of crane.

The plan should include details of the equipment to be used for each type of casualty and state actions required in the event of adverse weather such as high winds. This method statement should be used to brief those working at height and/or involved in the rescue plan. A practice rescue may also be necessary.

Mr Minton says: “It is essential that any rescue from height is carried out by trained and competent persons and that such people are available on site at all times when there is anybody up the crane. Contractors and crane owners must factor that requirement into their staffing arrangements.” 

The guidelines were revised in consultation with the Health and Safety Executive, fire and rescue services, tower crane manufacturers and owners, hire companies and construction contractors. The CPA expects to publish the guidelines this month via its website.

A list of rescue equipment providers can be found on the Work at Height Safety Association’s website.

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