CRANE hire boss Geoffrey Marsh has called on fellow crane hirers to stop drivers using mobile phones and snacking in their cabs.
Mr Marsh, of Marsh Plant, said that the industry should improve its professionalism and embrace technology to make it safer and more competitive.
Chairing a meeting of the Construction Plant-hire Association's crane hire interest group, he said that crane drivers risked their safety by using mobiles in the cabs.
He claimed: 'Crane operators spend too much time on mobile phones and this must be banned.
'Some are plugged into entertainment and so cannot hear instructions. And many operators are overweight because they sit in cabs all day, probably snacking. Long gone are the days of manually securing out riggers to keep fit.'
He added that hirers needed to meet increasing regulation.
He said: 'We must buy equipment with cleaner engines. The JCB's Dieselmax record breaking car was fitted with particulate filters. It points to the way we are going, whether we like it or not.'
The meeting also heard that the CPA is to meet next month with the Construction Confederation in a bid to clarify the way that lifting is supervised.
The confederation wants to be able to make slinger-signallers and other operatives responsible for simple lifts, rather than having to bring in a crane supervisor or appointed person at added expense and time.
But crane hirers said such a move would dilute the work they have done on formalising lift supervision responsibilities to make the process safer.
CPA chief executive Colin Wood said: 'Crane customers want it to be simpler but we are worried about the quality of supervision. It should be bona fide crane supervisors only, and hirers should tell their customers that they must manage the lift process properly.'
But at the same time, some customers want to introduce more supervision to other lifting operations.
Consultant Tim Watson said: 'Some contractors are using both telehandlers and lorry loaders to lift loads onsite and there is a feeling from some quarters that people should be trained to be a supervisor or appointed person for the whole range of equipment, not just cranes.'