The move has been prompted by the death of three crane erectors at Canary Wharf, east London, in May 2000.
Kevin Myers, the HSE's chief construction inspector, this week released a discussion document on the safe use of tower cranes. It said contractors should carry out detailed risk assessments, taking account of local conditions that could affect the use of cranes. It added that contractors should give consideration as to how the overall climbing operation is supervised.
It said: "A systematic approach to the examination, test and maintenance of climbing operation is needed."
Myers said the HSE aimed to assist the industry in understanding the potential risks of using climbing frames in tower crane operations.
He pointed to the potential for serious accidents and said: "The discussion document should help with the development of more robust standards for this type of work and hopefully reduce risk."
The document points out that contractors should assess how falls from walkways, platforms and access ladders can be prevented. It stresses that effective measures are needed to avoid the slewing of the crane jib during a climb.
It goes on to consider safety standards, stressing that crane operators should comply with minimum safety training standards to operate a tower crane.
This document should help the development of robust standards
HSE’s chief construction inspector
An HSE spokesperson said the document was to be presented to the industry for feedback.
She said: "It is expected that British and European standards will be developed for the manufacture of tower cranes' climbing frames and their operation."
The HSE emphasised that the document was not directly related to the Canary Wharf crane collapse or any other individual incident.
The men who died in the Canary Wharf accident were Peter Clark, 33, of London; Martin Burgess, 31, of Castleford, West Yorkshire; and Michael Whittard, 39, of Leeds. The three were employees of Hewden Tower Cranes of Castleford.
In November last year, Building revealed that Hewden could face an £8m bill for damages after the collapse. The High Court found that Hewden, rather than crane operator Cleveland Bridge, was responsible for controlling the equipment at the Docklands site.