Harvey, 85, died in early June due to a crane collapse in Bow, east London, is utterly tragic. We understand that the crane operator is still in critical condition.
Our thoughts are with families and everyone affected by the breakdown.
We don’t know exactly why this happened, but we are waiting for the result of a full investigation.
As construction workers will know, this crane collapse is by no means a one-off incident – there was a story of cranes collapsing.
Battersea Crane Disaster Action Group was formed after a crane collapse in Battersea in 2006 that killed crane operator Jonathan Cloke along with a member of the public, Michael Alexia.
In addition to the building safety campaign, she advocated changes to the law.
This led to success in the adoption of the conventional tower crane ordinance in 2009 and the registration of cranes.
These vital security steps were all thrown in the trash when a Tory government returned to power in 2010.
With the events in Bow, it is once again clear and important that the 2009 repealed regulations must be brought back, expanded and applied to all cranes.
Just three years ago, in 2017, a crane collapse in Glasgow killed Gary Currie and seriously injured another.
Three men, David Newall, Rhys Barker and David Webb, were killed in Crewe in June that year when a crane collapsed there.
How can we as a country give the workers health and safety in the crane industry?
The building safety campaign assumes that:
- All cranes should be checked and inspected by specialized crane companies that are independent of the crane supplier and the operating company.
- Every crane should have a shelf life limit after which it must be scrapped.
- Crane operator fatigue and daylight restrictions must be taken into account, with a limit to the number of hours worked.
- Consultation with members of the public who may be affected must take place before cranes are deployed on site.
- Laws need to be put in place so that crane operators or other construction workers should not fear that complaints about unsafe conditions may cause them to lose their jobs or be excluded from future employment if they raise health and safety concerns. In addition, companies found guilty of such practice should not be allowed to offer any public or private work.
- Cranes will have a crane safety assembly and operation plan and work permit file prior to being deployed on site, which must include: the crane assembly safety plan and risk assessments and work methods required for each operation performed by the crane.
- Far more frequent visits by inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to construction sites before, during and after the construction of cranes. You can also visit the company depots, where tests and maintenance work on cranes are carried out before they are delivered to construction sites.
- Paying more attention to the inspection and testing of bolts is important as they are the weakest link if inadequate and not properly tightened.
- Competence of fitters and drivers and verification of the competence of replacement crane drivers
- Poster / emergency plans should be available both on site and in a database. These plans need to involve the immediate local community.
- Identification of cranes by numbers on the side of these cranes with an HSE database of the history of these cranes, the date of manufacture, the amount and type of use, the record of damage to these cranes, as well as any previous dangerous occurrences as a result of their operation are to be linked.
- Increased fines and the application of corporate manslaughter prosecution to directors of companies whose failure to provide safe jobs results in the death and serious injury of workers and members of the public.
I’m sure these points aren’t wild demands on the construction industry and the government – it’s just about the welfare and safety of the people.
It is incredible that the UK is one of the worst countries in the world for tower crane accidents today.
In the ten years prior to the crane register, the HSE found there were 60 crane accidents in which nine people died and 25 were seriously injured.
However, HSE prosecution is becoming increasingly time-consuming – in Battersea’s case, 10 years.
This is a persistent method of treating bereaved relatives who not only suffer the completely unnecessary and negligent death of a loved one, but also find themselves caught up in many years of legal nightmares.
The building safety campaign believes that crane regulations need to be reintroduced.
This is not about “bureaucracy” as the Tories would lead us to believe: this is about people’s lives.