14.12.2007

Tower crane campaigners call for inquiry

UCATT, the UK construction Union and a number of 'safety' campaigners are calling for an urgent inquiry after the latest tower crane collapse in Forest Hill, London.

Although no-one was injured, campaignersare linking the increased number of tower crane accidents over the past 12 months or so to cuts in funding to the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which, they say, means there are fewer inspectors to monitor construction sites.

Mike Holder, of the London Hazards Centre, said: "There is clearly a problem in the construction industry with cranes that's not being addressed, and there is a lack of HSE enforcement officers because of cuts. We need a strong enforcement regime."

According to UCATT, since 2000 there have been eight deaths, 24 serious injuries, and a number of near-misses as a result of accidents involving cranes.

In September 2006, two people were killed in a crane accident in Battersea. Liliana Alexa, mother of one of the men who died is secretary of the Battersea Crane Disaster Action Group, said that she would like to see an inspector present every time a crane came on site,as happened in many other countries.

Alexa said: "We need more inspectors. It makes me angry because it is so dangerous."

Jerry Swain, of UCATT added: "Through sheer luck we are not talking about another fatality. We must have a swift inquiry in order to establish whether the necessary inspections had been conducted on the crane and what went wrong."

A spokesman for the Health & Safety Executive said he could not comment other than to say that inspectors were investigating the incident.

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