It often seems that everything the construction industry does is bound in a fine mesh of red tape.
So at first glance, calling for yet more rules might seem unhelpful. But given the spate of fatal crane accidents, we believe there is no alternative but to impose a more rigorous approach to their safety. That’s why we’ve launched the Safer Skylines campaign. This calls for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to carry out a safety blitz to ensure that work under way now is safe. And to do the same for work carried out in the future, we want an annual MOT test for cranes, carried out by an independent inspector, and a register to assure an anxious public that they can walk by sites without taking their life into their hands.
At this stage, we don’t pretend to have worked out how these measures can be delivered. Indeed, we know how complex a process it’s likely to be. For example, a nationwide blitz by the HSE won’t be easy given the recent cuts it has suffered. And who’d keep the public register? The highly respected Considerate Constructors Scheme would be one candidate. Does the Construction Plant Hire Association or the Major Contractors Group have a role to play? You’d think so.
Since last week several significant things have happened. The HSE has ordered work to stop on sites where Falcon Cranes are being operated, on
the basis that the last two fatal accidents involved them. An inconvenience for the 100 odd sites involved? Undoubtedly. An overreaction? Let’s hope so. Necessary? Absolutely.
This week, the campaign has received backing from industry leaders, unions and MPs, 14 of whom have signed an early day motion backing the campaign. Given this level of support, surely the practicalities can be worked out. We’ll be debating these issues over the coming weeks. Tell us what you think.
A no brainer
The process of fitting out offices has been a wasteful one for as long as anyone can remember. Developers fear that tenants won’t be able to picture their new homes without floors, ceiling and other visual aids, so they dress the set. But as often as not, these materials and fittings end up in a skip as soon as the tenant takes the space and brings in its own interior designers. The result is that millions of tonnes of new materials are wasted. This is madness. The British Council for Offices is planning a campaign against the practice this year, but to change it everyone has to make an effort. For one thing, throwing out the old ways, so to speak, goes against the grain for construction firms, not least because those ways generate work for them. But developers have to think of other methods of showing off their buildings, designers have to be less precious and work with what’s there, and contractors should think about adapting materials – or, at the very least, recycling them.
Denise Chevin, editor