UK calls for tower crane register

By Euan Youdale16 March 2009

UK-based Construction Plant-hire Association's (CPA) new Plant Safety Group has investigated the need for a national register of tower cranes, which was called for by UK members of parliament (MPs).

In 2007 the Government Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) Select Committee said it was very concerned at the number of incidents and fatalities involving tower cranes and other plant on construction sites. It called for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to "urgently bring forward proposals such as a national register of plant, including ownership, age, design type, date of last inspection and other relevant factors."

In July 2008 the official Government response to the select committee was published. "The government shares the Committee's concern about tower crane safety but does not consider that a national register is the best way forward. Establishment and maintenance of such a register would be burdensome and unlikely to have the desired effect."

Nonetheless, the Select Committee remained concerned and tabled an official question in Parliament to the Secretary of State, Lord McKenzie, asking what his department planned to do about it. He replied that the HSE and the construction industry were already taking steps to improve tower crane safety and that bodies like the CPA were working to improve industry guidance.

The Select Committee, however, continued its call for a register. As a result the Secretary of State asked the HSE to revisit the issue, which, in turn, asked for industry input.

The CPA Plant Safety Group is now looking at the issue again and will report its findings. Since then the HSE said it will go ahead with a voluntary register, which could become mandatory in the future. Colin Wood, CPA chief executive, supported the scheme in principle.

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