Raising safety

25 April 2008

Health and safety legislation can be very general so to help crane users comply with it a large amount of guidance and advice is available. In the UK, for example, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, states that organizations need to have safe systems for all work activities, to ensure the health, safety and welfare of workers.

For those who work with cranes the first step in establishing such a safe system of use is to recognise that the people and buildings around a crane are in a potential danger area and the consequences of not inspecting and using cranes properly can be disastrous.

The BS 7121 Code of practice for safe use of cranes is described by its publisher, BSI Business Information, as “a working guide for management and to assist in the training of personnel in safe working practices.”

BSI (British Standards Institution) says the BS 7121 series “has been accepted as representing the consensus of practical experience for safety on cranes. It takes into account PUWER 1998* and LOLER 1998, which, when implemented, meet requirements given in the EU's Use of Work Equipment Directive (89/655/EEC) and its amendment (95/63/EC).”

BS 7121 is available in 14 parts, largely divided according to crane type. The aims of the series are:

• to assist duty holders in implementing a safe system with clear instructions for planning, management and supervision, training of personnel

• to describe the principal characteristics of the various forms of cranes of the types most commonly used

• to draw attention to some of the more common hazards and potential dangers that might be encountered in their use

• to include recommendations for general precautions to be taken and procedures to be followed to avoid accidents.

Part 1 in the BS 7121 series is the revised BS 7121-1: 2006 Code of practice for safe use of cranes. General, published on 28 February. It supersedes BS 7121-1: 1989, which will be withdrawn. The revised guide offers recommendations on how businesses can follow best practice for the safe use of cranes and alert operation and maintenance personnel and management to their role in ensuring crane safety at all times. BSI says the new edition is a full revision of the standard and is intended for use in conjunction with other parts of BS 7121.

Subjects covered in the 70-plus pages of the revised standard include: safe systems of work; management; planning; selection; erection and dismantling; inspection; testing; examination; operation and maintenance of cranes; and the planning and management of lifting operations. Near the beginning is a comprehensive list of terms and definitions that include Appointed Person, Crane Coordinator and types of lift. A primary difference from the first version of Part 1 is that the revised guide goes into greater detail. For example, it splits lifts into three types; basic, standard, and complex.

The 23 sections, which include diagrams, range from the management of installation and lifting operations, through erection and dismantling, to special applications of cranes. Especially comprehensive is the eight-page Section 22 on wire rope and there is an extensive appendix on training crane operators and slingers.

Also due for publication in the series are Part 5, in April, for tower cranes (BS 7121-5: 2006 Code of practice for safe use of cranes. Tower cranes), Part 6 for derrick cranes, and Part 13, in September, for hydraulic gantry lifting systems. •

* PUWER - Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations

† LOLER - Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations

• For more information on the BS 7121 series visit www.bsi-global.com/cranesafety

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