Victory for Building campaign as safety body agrees to keep list of checks on tower cranes

The Health and Safety Executive has finally caved in to pressure to create a register of safety checks on tower cranes.

The decision was made at a board meeting of the safety body on Wednesday. Judith Hackitt, the HSE chair, said the register would initially be voluntary “with a view to making it a statutory instrument once we know what makes sense and makes value”.

The decision follows a two-year campaign by Building after a spate of fatal crane accidents on construction sites. The Safer Skyline campaign was launched in 2007, calling for a list of all checks on tower cranes to be kept and publicly accessible.

The Department of Work and Pensions select committee voiced its support for the measure last year.

In December, Building reported that the HSE had snubbed the requests on the grounds it would involve “too much paperwork”.

However, following a debate by its members, Hackitt said the safety body “must be seen to be responding to public demand”.

Liliana Alexa, secretary of the Battersea Crane Disaster Action Group, lost her son in a crane accident in 2006. She said: “It is imperative to have this security measure in place. After the crane collapse at Forest Hill [in south London] in December 2007, it took two weeks to find out who owned the crane. This register should be statutory straight away, but this is a good step.”

Stephen Williams, the HSE’s chief inspector for construction, said the board was preparing a recommendation for the register, which would be run by the HSE’s Health and Safety Laboratory, to work and pensions secretary James Purnell. Purnell is still to decide if the register will be publicly available.

In addition to a register, Building campaigned for an urgent HSE blitz on tower crane safety and more rigorous checks on cranes aged 10 years and over.