Many people have suspected that there was something a bit haphazard about the way companies handled tower cranes.
But few could have guessed just how haphazard. Well now we know, thanks to Ian Simpson, an inspector with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). He has revealed a seven-year history of poor maintenance, chaotic paperwork, dangerous site practice and non-existent risk assessments (pages 12-13).
So far it has been difficult to marshal this evidence, as crane-related accidents have been sporadic, and few have had the same causes. That
changed when a tower crane collapsed last week on a Haymills site in Croydon, and preliminary findings suggested that the accident bore a close resemblance to the Canary Wharf collapse seven years ago, which killed three people.
Surely it’s time that the lessons of the past are learned. A good start would be to embrace Building’s long running Safer Skyline campaign, which is calling for a public register of cranes across the country that would contain maintenance logs. But this will never happen until the bosses of more of the crane companies, contractors and clients operating in this competitive and often informal market sit round a table and share information on good and bad safety practice.
Douglas Genge, the managing director of Falcon Crane Hire, the company that owned the cranes involved in two recent fatal collapses, speaks this week of his personal distress after the accidents (pages 40-42). Genge, for one, would welcome the chance to share his firm’s experience with others, once the HSE’s investigations are complete. So now is the time for the rest of the crane sector to take its head out of the sand and work together. After all, as Genge says, it could happen to you too.
Tom Broughton, executive editor
Happy birthday, now leave us to it …
When Women in Property was founded 20 years ago, construction’s female professionals wore shoulder pads, blow-dried their hair into elaborate flicks and dreamed of the day when they’d be respected as equal players in a chauvinistic industry. Times have changed, and even though the eighties fashions may be making a comeback, there are undeniably more women in senior positions in the industry. There is also a generation of confident young women becoming architects, engineers, QSs and project managers. They’re used to being treated equally by their peers at university, and they don’t see why it should be any different when they start work. So, do these women still need all-female clubs to give them a leg-up in an industry that appears to be welcoming them with open arms? Unsurprisingly, the debate on page 54 reflects the experiences of these two generations. But where do you stand?