A national register for cranes does nothing to improve safety, is an unnecessary cost to construction firms and should be abolished, the British workplace health and safety regulator says.
Last week, Britain’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) released proposals to abolish 14 regulations pertaining to the use of conventional tower cranes on building sites. These regulations include a requirement for those who have primary responsibility for the safety of cranes to register and provide information about them on a Tower Crane Register administered by the HSE.
In explaining its proposal to abolish the register, the HSE says the register has little to no impact on either improving safety on construction sites or improving public perceptions about crane safety. The HSE also says the register adds unnecessarily to the compliance burden on the industry and that its abolition would have no material adverse impact upon safety.
The HSE says a report into the impact of the register and associated regulations found that “there is no evidence that the intended effects are being realised in any significant way – neither in terms of raising safety standards in the use of tower cranes through better targeting, or in providing reassurance to members of the public”.
Indeed, far from providing any reassurance to the public, the safety regulator says that only three members of the public have ever asked for information about tower cranes from the register.
Furthermore, the HSE says the report found little evidence that statutory requirements to register tower cranes were the most appropriate way to improve safety and suggested that non-regulatory methods be explored. Toward this end, the regulator says a comprehensive suite of industry guidelines have been published by the Strategic Forum for Construction Plant Safety Group (PSG) and the Construction Plant-hire Association Tower Crane Interest Group (TCIG), which represent the interests of tower crane companies. These guidelines, HSE says, covers topics such as the competence of those erecting and dismantling tower cranes, inspection and maintenance of cranes, and the management of the installation and dismantling process.
The Tower Crane Register was set up in Britain in 2010 after a series of incidents involving eight deaths led to calls for improvements in tower crane safety.
Under current regulations, employers who have primary responsibility for the safety of cranes are required to register them with the HSE and provide details such as the name and address of the crane owner, the address of the site on which the crane is to be used and sufficient information to identify the crane and the date of its last thorough examination.