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HSE to target tower crane hire companies

PLANT - Safety blitz follows successful HSE campaign on mobile cranes earlier this year

THE HEALTH & Safety Executive is planning a campaign to blitz tower crane companies to check up on their working methods.

The move has been prompted by five fatalities in the sector in recent years and by the success of a similar campaign focusing on mobile cranes earlier this year.

HSE inspectors will visit the head offices of tower crane hire companies to investigate their working procedures and safety management systems.

The HSE is working on the campaign in co-operation with the Construction Plant-hire Association's Tower Crane Interest Group, which represents crane owners, as well as organisations that represent the customer base, including the Glass & Glazing Federation, the British Constructional Steelwork Association and the Truss Raf ter Associat ion .

Earlier this year, HSE inspectors visited 21 head offices of mobile crane hirers. HSE inspector Sue Thomas, who set up the mobile crane campaign, told the Construction Planthire Association's Crane Interest Group last week that the hire firms had responded well to the initiative.

Ms Thomas said that no prohibition notices were required, meetings were all productive and positive, cranes were generally well maintained, operators had thorough training and companies were meeting their responsibilities.

The only issue arising was that 'most, if not all' would flout the requirement that if a customer has no lift plan, then the job should proceed as a contract lift, rather than a straight hire. Under a contract lift, the crane owner takes responsibility for planning and executing the job and so can charge a premium.

Ms Thomas said: 'Sometimes a crane would go out on a crane hire arrangement but the hire company would plan the lift, effectively giving a free contract lift.' She added that she understood business realities and that sometimes deals had to be done to keep the job, but it 'raises concerns for the future of the industry'.