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March 3, 2009

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Cranes

Cranes register under discussion after DWP bows to pressure

The HSE is drawing up plans for a national register of tower cranes after being provoked by the Government into considering action on how the safety of such equipment might be improved.

A register, holding details of checks carried out on tower cranes, has been a repeated demand of safety campaigners, and was also called for by the Work and Pensions Select Committee last April, following its inquiry into health and safety. Responding to the Committee’s report, the Government rejected the proposal, saying it did not consider a national register to be “the best way forward”, and that it would be “burdensome” and unlikely to have a “desired effect on safety standards”.

But, in now asking the HSE to explore the register as an option, the Government seems to have come round to the idea, with proposals discussed at an HSE board meeting on 28 January.

An HSE spokesperson commented: “The HSE has started preliminary work to determine roles and responsibilities but it is at the early stages of development. Initially, it looks likely that it will be voluntary, with a view to move to a statutory scheme once we have ironed out how to do it.”

Hilda Palmer, of Families Against Corporate Killers, told SHP: “That HSE is to set up a crane register is a victory for the effective campaigning of the Battersea Crane Disaster Action Group, which called for this measure after Michael Alexa and Jonathan Cloke were killed in a crane collapse on 26 September 2006. But, to be effective, it needs to be compulsory and have real teeth.”

Tony O’Brien, secretary of the Construction Safety Campaign, asked: “What’s this register going to be used for? Who will monitor the conditions attached to this register? What penalties will exist for failure to comply with its requirements?” He added: “The big and much overlooked issue, even more so from the fear over job losses during the recession, is whether crane operators and other related workers are going to be allowed to make complaints about unsafe cranes, without them facing the fear of losing their jobs for doing so. I don’t think so, unless far stricter laws are established to prevent this from happening.”

Approaches to managing the risks associated Musculoskeletal disorders

In this episode of the Safety & Health Podcast, we hear from Matt Birtles, Principal Ergonomics Consultant at HSE’s Science and Research Centre, about the different approaches to managing the risks associated with Musculoskeletal disorders.

Matt, an ergonomics and human factors expert, shares his thoughts on why MSDs are important, the various prevalent rates across the UK, what you can do within your own organisation and the Risk Management process surrounding MSD’s.

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