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‘Tell us where the cranes are’

The need to raise more awareness on the certification and main­tenance of tower cranes was discussed at a seminar by the Occupational Health and Safety Authority. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

The need to raise more awareness on the certification and main­tenance of tower cranes was discussed at a seminar by the Occupational Health and Safety Authority. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

In a bid to have a better picture of where tower cranes are being used, the Occupational Health and Safety Authority has invited operators to keep it updated.

OHSA principal officer Kevin Gauci told a seminar that, although contractors were not bound by law to send in copies of certificates of operations, the regulator would appreciate it if they still did.

Building contractors must have a crane certified before it can be used on a site

Such practice would allow the OHSA to keep track of what was go­ing on in terms of tower crane use.

The seminar, a first, was organised by the regulator in collaboration with the European Agency for Safety and Health and was attended by about 70 suppliers and experts who certify cranes for use, including Joachim Schulz, from the DGUV Expert Committee Construction Industry of Germany, as the main speaker.

It was held to raise awareness about legal notices dealing with the issue and focused on tower cranes, which have mushroomed over the past five years, replacing the mobile crane.

According to Mr Gauci there are more than 200 tower cranes available for use in Malta.

He noted that deaths and injuries resulting from tower crane accidents were minimal, however, such heavy machinery could damage third party property in the surroundings. Most of the accidents were caused by lack of maintenance, he added.

Building contractors must have a crane certified before it can be used on a site but they are not bound by law to submit a copy of it to the OHSA, whose officials can, however, demand to see all relevant documentation, including the certificate, during random inspection visits to construction sites.

Mr Gauci noted that the sector was already regulated. However, judging by exchanges he had with crane owners and contractors, he felt there was need to raise more awareness about the certification and maintenance of the machinery.

He referred to a 1986 legal notice, which obliges the supplier of the crane to maintain regular maintenance, noting that many abided by the rules. Unfortunately, he added, it was only when things went wrong that the public got to know.

Closing the seminar, Health Minister Godfrey Farrugia insisted that cranes should be rigorously tested as they could cause serious accidents.

The EU, he added, was discussing the setting of a minimum standard of competence for those who tested cranes.

Dr Farrugia insisted that the OHSA should not just be a watchdog but also raise awareness to decrease the risk of accidents on construction sites.

More information is available at [email protected]

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