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    TOWER CRANE OUT OF SERVICE SAFETY ALERT

    Important advice from Construction Plant-hire Association and HSE

    In view of the unprecedented situation presented by the coronavirus outbreak, the Construction Plant-hire Association’s (CPA) Tower Crane Interest Group (TCIG) has issued advice to tower crane owners and users relating to how tower cranes should be left out of service for potentially lengthy periods of time.

    The CPA Safety Alert states that failure to take the crane out of service in line with manufacturer instructions and to periodically inspect the crane whilst out of service could result in very high wind loadings being placed on the crane with consequential collapse of the jib or the whole crane.

    The CPA alert states that if it necessary to leave tower cranes out of service for long periods of time owners and users are advised to:

    • Manufacturer Information – ensure that the most up to date information for taking the crane out of service is obtained from the manufacturer or supplier of the tower crane for the specific make, model and configuration of crane. This should be checked against the information recorded in the project lift plan;
    • Compliance Verification – from the information provided by the crane manufacturer or supplier verify that the crane has been left in the correct out of service condition;
    • Luffing Cranes – with luffing cranes, it is strongly advised that the jib is parked at the maximum radius possible allowing for surrounding obstacles rather than at the minimum out of service radius specified by the manufacturer;
    • Saddle Cranes – with a saddle jib crane, park the trolley at the manufacturers recommended position along the jib;
    • Free Slew Check – check the function of the free slew mechanism and report any fault to the owners’ or suppliers’ service department immediately. Leave the crane in free slew;
    • Wind Direction – make note of the direction of the tower crane jib in relation to the wind direction. When the jib is in free slew it should follow any change in wind direction. If the jib remains in the same position when the wind direction changes, contact the crane supplier service department immediately;
    • Fixing Integrity – check the integrity of fixings of any wind sail or advertising boards;
    • Intruder Protection – secure any intruder prevention barriers;
    • Key Security – hand all keys to designated project management representative and inform the crane owners service department of the key holder’s contact details;
    • Crane Base – put in place procedures to ensure that the base of cranes is keep free from surface water that may accumulate; and
    • Periodic Inspection – put in place arrangements for the crane to be periodically inspected by a competent person. If the crane driver is not available, then arrangements should be made with the crane supplier to undertake the inspections.

    The new tower crane safety alert can be downloaded from the CPA website at https://www.cpa.uk.net/news-events/tower-crane-safety-alert–coronavirus/.

    HSE advice on Coronavirus “inspection difficulties”

    CPA recommends that a thorough examination regime for the crane is maintained whilst it remains out of service. Prior to the crane re-entering service, the crane should be inspected by the crane supplier.

    The Health & Safety Executive is aware of concerns relating to the examination of equipment that is subject to statutory inspection time limits and has issued a statement on what should be taken into account where inspection difficulties occur due to the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

    HSE has issued a statement on statutory inspections as follows:

    “COVID -19 – Equipment legally subject to Written Schemes, Statutory Inspections or Thorough Examinations

    Following the Government’s recent announcement of measures designed to contain the outbreak of COVID-19, HSE is aware of concerns relating to the examination of equipment that is subject to statutory inspection time limits.

    The Health and Safety Executive enforces several pieces of legislation that contain requirements for time-bound statutory inspections, including the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 and the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.

    Duty-holders have a legal responsibility to maintain work equipment and carry out thorough examinations, written schemes and Statutory Inspections. These legal duties exist to help manage the significant hazard that the failure of such equipment can pose, not complying with these duties can significantly increase the risk of harm to workers and members of the public.

    Under certain circumstances with the agreement of a suitable competent person, some legislation does allow thorough examinations/statutory inspections to be postponed to a later date. Even if such options are taken, it remains the duty-holders responsibility to ensure that the equipment is safe to use.

    If engineering companies are suffering shortages in their own resources, they should consider focusing this resource/expertise on equipment in premises where the most vulnerable are located such as hospitals, care homes and infrastructure which is essential to the running of the country.

    Engineers who are working on sites where there are restrictions arising from the risk of COVID-19 infection should comply with site rules and take into account the wider Public Health England advice regarding good hygiene practices and separation distances. Consideration needs to be given to protecting the engineers but also, where relevant, any vulnerable persons who may be affected by their work.

    At the current time, HSE is not considering issuing exemptions or relaxation of these requirements, but we recognise this is a fluid situation and this position is constantly under review.”

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