§ Mrs. Joyce Butler
asked the Minister of Labour if he will now make a statement about the recommendations in the report of the investigation of the crane accident at Brent Cross.
§ Mr. Gunter
The Report made it clear hat this disastrous accident was the result of the coincidence of a number of different factors and that there was not likely to be a repetition. We have, however, been considering carefully the lessons to be derived from the accident, and the additional precautionary measures that ought to be taken.
So far as the actual safety of the operation of mobile cranes is concerned, there are certain particular matters which require attention. These are:
- (1) More frequent examination of equipment.
- (2) A formal obligation on the person making an examination to draw the contractor's attention to the matter immediately if he finds the lifting appliance unsafe.
- (3) The provision by manufacturers of the necessary detailed information to enable the safe working loads to be calculated.
- (4) The provision by manufacturers of a suitable device to indicate the degree of slope on which a crane is working.
- (5) The development of a more precise method of testing the effect of lateral stresses on the jib of a crane than that laid down in the current British Standard.
The first four of these matters will be discussed with the construction industry in the context of the revision and consolidation of the Construction Regulations which are due to start next year. The last question is mainly one for the manufacturers and we are following it up with them. In addition, we believe that there is a need for further research into the stresses on crane jibs and the suitability and effectiveness of safe load indicators, and we are actively pursuing these possibilities.
For the greater safety of the public the Court recommended that consideration be given to bringing them within the scope of the Factories Act and to giving Factory Inspectors stronger powers to stop the use of defective plant. The protection afforded to the worker by the Factories Act and Regulations does, however, provide incidental protection to members of the public and we do not think this would be effectively increased by an extension of the Act's scope or of the powers of Factory Inspectors.
On the question of precautionary stopping of traffic, the Court observed that there was no case for extreme measures but commented on the need for emergency measures which a contractor could employ without calling on the police. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport took this point into consideration before introducing the Traffic Signs (Amendment) Regulations earlier this year. These Regulations prescribe a traffic sign which may be used by contractors in an emergency to warn traffic that it would be dangerous to proceed. General guidance on the circumstances in which the sign may be used will be made available in the Road Works chapter of the Traffic Signs Manual now being prepared.