Steven Williams, the chief inspector of the Health and Safety Executive, said that people should not jump to conclusions about the cause of the crane collapse in south-west London this week.

He added that if the HSE investigation into the accident at Battersea uncovered any broader causes for concern, the industry would be informed immediately. But he said it was too early to link it with the Canary Wharf accident in 2000, in which five people died.

The 165 ft crane collapsed onto a block of flats at a Barratt site on Tuesday evening killing two men and injuring a third. One of the men who died was the crane operator; the other has been identified as Michael Alexa, a bus driver for Go-ahead.

Williams acknowledge that there had been a sequence of crane accidents over the past six years but said this could simply be a reflection of the fact that more cranes were in use because of the construction boom.

Bob Blackman, national construction officer for the T&G, agreed but noted: “Something happened with that crane on Tuesday. Something out of the ordinary.

“It’s hard to compare it to the Canary Wharf collapse as it was a totally different case, but it would be useful to compare the two incidents, particularly as there have been a few in the space of a few years.”

An HSE report on the Canary Wharf collapse was published last year. It concluded that the disaster was the result of human error.