Reader's Letter

25 April 2008

Dear Sir

Thank you for an excellent article on the statutory requirement for an Appointed Person (AP) to plan and risk-assess all crane lifts (IC Feb06, Well appointed, page 35).

As you correctly state, the duty to have an AP is a requirement of British Standard 7121, part 3, published in 2000.

What your readers may also be interested to know is that BS 7121 is an Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) and, as such, has quasilegal status. This means that while BS 7121 is neither Primary nor Secondary legislation, it does have the force of law in that non-compliance with this ACOP may be presented by the prosecuting authority in a court of law as non-compliance with the 1998 LOLER regulations [see Safe view, page 48]. The reason is that Regulation 8 of LOLER, requires all lifts to be planned by a “competent person” and as such this requirement for an AP is now a statutory duty.

Moreover, in the event of a fatality involving a crane, or a lifting operation of any kind, non-compliance with the ACOP itself, may even be presented as non-compliance with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Particularly so, if the lifting operation was a complicated one, for example, a tandem lift.

In my experience, crane lifts rarely go wrong but this is more due to good luck than good management because the requirement to have an AP is still not widely recognized in the industry and is rarely practiced. Unfortunately, the crane driver is all too often pressurised into making the lift - irrespective of planning and assessing all the risks involved - and then blamed when it all goes wrong.

Mike Ponsonby

Appointed person and barrister specializing in crane safety

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