European body clarifies position on using cranes to lift people

07 July 2011

Cranes should not be used to lift people, says European body FEM, except in exceptional circumstance

Cranes should not be used to lift people, says European body FEM, except in exceptional circumstances.

The European association for materials handling equipment, FEM (Fédération Européenne de la Manutention), has issued a position paper that states that cranes should not be used for lifting people, except under exceptional circumstances.

FEM's paper states that "Mobile cranes shall never be used for entertainment purposes, such as lifting of persons for shows, bungee jumping, dinner-in-the-sky or lifting of other structures with people on the structure or underneath".

The association said cranes should lift people only "in unique work situations when it is the least hazardous way to do the job."

The statement - issued by FEM's cranes and lifting equipment product group on 16 May (document FEM CLE MC N 0284) - has been welcomed by IPAF.

Tim Whiteman, IPAF CEO, said; "Purpose-built powered access equipment is an infinitely safer and more precise method of providing access to carry out temporary work at height.

"Compare this with a basket suspended from a single crane rope which may well blow around in the wind...cranes should be used for lifting loads, not people."

IPAF said that FEM's clarification follows an earlier statement from the US-based Power Crane and Shovel Association (PCSA) - part of the powerful Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) - which said; "Cranes are not designed, manufactured, or intended to handle personnel for either construction work or recreational activities. They are designed to lift objects, not people."

Cranes are regularly used for activities such as bungee jumping and also for more unusual applications, such as at the recent Chelsea Flower Show in London where one of the show gardens was suspended by a crane and where visitors were able to be lifted by crane.

That particular application prompted Paul Adorian, the former IPAF managing director, to make complaints directly to the health and safety authorities in London and the UK.

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