Tower crane alert

25 April 2008

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued an alert on the importance of the safe erection, operation, maintenance and dismantling of tower cranes. The alert, was prompted by recent serious incidents involving tower cranes. The main points of the alert are:

• Tower cranes are erected and dismantled by competent [qualified] people who have the necessary training and experience.

• Companies should draw up written procedures for each type of tower crane and these procedures should be based on the manufacturer's instructions.

• These procedures must be available on site and those involved in the work should be familiar with them.

• A thorough examination of the crane is undertaken after its erection by a competent person who is sufficiently independent and impartial, and who is not involved in the erection process.

• Only competent people are allowed to operate the crane.

• Pre-use checks are carried out by the crane operator at the start of each shift to ensure that the crane has not suffered any damage or failure and is safe to be used.

• In-service inspections are carried out by the crane operator, generally at weekly intervals, and records kept of these inspections.

• A properly planned maintenance system is established and used. Competent people should undertake this maintenance at the intervals specified by the manufacturer. Records should be kept of the work completed including any parts that have been replaced. In general the original manufacturer's parts should be used. Where parts are sourced from suppliers other than the original manufacturer, a competent engineer should assess that the parts selected meet the original manufacturer's specification and are fit for purpose. Any parts replaced should be installed in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

• Further thorough examinations are carried out by a competent person at specified intervals, after major alterations or repair, or after the occurrence of exceptional circumstances which are liable to jeopardise the safety of the crane.

• Lifting operations are properly planned and appropriately supervised.

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