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Tower crane regs scrapped

Tom Wall04/07/2012 - 13:00

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Tower crane accidents have killed seven
Tower crane accidents have killed seven

Ministers are rushing to scrap the tower crane register without giving it long enough to prove itself, the CIEH has warned.

The register was introduced after seven people died in crane-related accidents between 2006 and 2008. It came into force in 2010.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is consulting on plans to revoke the Notification of Conventional Tower Cranes Regulations 2010 and the Notification of Conventional Tower Cranes (Amendment) Regulations 2010.

They require firms using cranes to notify the HSE with the location of the crane and the date of the last examination.

The HSE argues there is no evidence that the regulations have raised safety standards for tower cranes. It also complains that they have cost businesses £51,000 a year.

David Kidney, CIEH head of policy, says the regulations were introduced following an alarming number of fatalities.

‘In the five years since those statistics were published there has apparently been no fatality associated with the use of towers. This includes the three years before the register was introduced and two years since. The proposition to abolish the register comes too soon to allow a definitive judgment to be made one way the other as to the contribution of the notification and registration regime to preventing fatalities and injuries,’ he says.

He adds that each registration only costs £35.

‘The CIEH would not regard the cost saving to businesses as a sufficient reason for revoking these regulations and abolishing the register.’

The HSE is also consulting on revoking to revoke the Construction (Head Protection) Regulations 1989, which requires employers to provide suitable head protection for workers.

Since their introduction non-fatal major head injuries have fallen from an average of 165 to an average 130 a year. The average number of deaths from head injury per year on construction sites fell from 48 a year to 14.

The HSE claims they have been superseded. But Mr Kidney says the revocation of these regulations may be misinterpreted as a relaxation of the strict application of the requirement for head protection.

‘This would be a very serious matter given the significant numbers quoted in the consultation document for fatalities and injuries caused due to the absence of head protection. The HSE will have to handle any perception that head protection on construction sites is being relaxed and this should be a matter of effective communication in collaboration with the industry and trade unions,’ he writes.

The regulations have been cited 33 times in notices issued in the previous 13 years and three times in approved prosecution activity in the same period.

The CIEH say the HSE must run an awareness campaign of ‘sufficient intensity and prominence’ to ensure that the move is not misinterpreted.

The HSE is also looking to revoke the Docks Regulations 1988 Approved Code of Practice with Regulations and Guidance and Ship-Repairing Regulations 1960.

The CIEH says it would prefer the retention of an amended and updated Approved Code of Practice because there it no evidence to support the effectiveness of a new industry code.

‘The regulations have been cited 56 times in notices and 38 times in prosecutions in the previous 13 years. Clearly the standards set by these Regulations remain relevant today,’ Mr Kidney says. 

The government has pledged that it will reduce the total number of regulations businesses have to comply by 84 per cent by 2014.

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