Proposals have been put forward by the government to abolish 14 sets of regulations which govern how tower cranes, personal protection equipment and docks are used. Safety campaigners and representatives of trade unions have come forward to suggest that the plans could put lives in danger.
John McClean, national health and safety officer at GMB, said: “These lifesaving regulations only came into force in 2010 and there has been insufficient time to evaluate the effect of the regulations on public safety.” He pointed to statistics which show that during the ten years prior to the regulations coming into force there were in excess of 60 accidents in relation to tower cranes in the UK.
Nine of these resulted in death and a further 25 involved serious injuries and with around 1,500 tower cranes across the country the potential for accidents is high. Mr McClean said: “When something goes wrong with a crane people die. “The public are as at risk as the workers on a building site when one of these giants falls down or loses its load. The crane register and the regulations must remain.”
The worst safety record in Europe belongs to the UK and under the new proposals this could potentially get worse as inspections and enforcement practices are removed. Cutting back regulation is a high profile policy for the current government, which is keen to be seen to be doing more to help businesses. The thinking behind the idea is that unnecessary red tape prevents growth, which is desperately needed in the current economic climate. Amongst the red tape to be cut back are some health and safety regulations, which has led some people to worry that it could lead to more work based accidents.