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BSI to close loophole on lorry loader cranes

PLANT - Lorry loader standards will call for tighter supervision and method statements

BRITISH Standards is proposing that anyone using a lorry loader crane to lift materials to height on site should provide full method statements and an appointed person.

The revision will close what is seen by many as a loophole in the rules, where cranes with as much as 30 m reach can be operated, supervised and slung by a single driver, purely because the crane is attached to the bed of a truck.

The latest generation of slewing telehandlers could come under the same regulations when the Health and Safety Executive sets out its strategy for lifting operations.

Peter Oram, chairman of the British Standards committee on cranes, has confirmed that he is to revise the current standard for lorry loaders 'as soon as resources permit' on the basis that the new generation of large loaders is outside its original scope.

The move follows lobbying from the Construction Planthire Association, which is seeking to achieve a level playing field for all lifting operations. Crane hirers had complained that some lorry loader firms were able to undercut their rates because they did not have to provide extra men to supervise and sling the load.

Mr Oram has written to hirers and lorry loader firms telling them of his intention to introduce changes to BS 7121, which was written in 1997.

He said: 'The standards addressed those machines whose purpose was the transport of goods, but happened to be fitted with a crane to facilitate loading and unloading.

'This means that the capacity of the crane should be commensurate with the load-carrying capacity of the vehicle to which they are fitted, and the reach of the crane should only enable the load to be placed in the close proximity of the vehicle.'

He has made it clear that large loader cranes will be treated as mobile cranes in future and so be subject to the stricter regime.

He said: 'The very large cranes that are currently being fitted, where the crane takes up the majority of the vehicle's load carrying capacity and the crane has a reach that is far in excess of that required to just unload the vehicle, are outside the scope of Part 4 of BS 7121.They are mobile cranes and are subject to Part 3 of the standard.'

This decision will have significant consequences for those companies that have hire fleets of large loaders.

Mr Oram added: 'The crane driver cannot take on any other role than driving the crane.The lifting operations that these large machines perform must have a written plan, be supervised and have slingers and signallers as defined by Par t 3.'

The HSE will meet the CPA this month and will consider introducing a similar regime for telehandlers when used for lifting.