International Workers Memorial Day: crane operators on health & safety front line

IWMD 2017 decal SMALLUnite raises concerns with HSA and Solas

Being forced to work in windy conditions among breaches cited

April 28th: Unite, which organises 85% of crane operators in Ireland and all crane operators in Dublin, said today (Friday April 28th) that crane operators are on what Regional Officer for Construction Tom Fitzgerald termed the “health and safety front line”, with operators often being forced to work in unsafe conditions.  Speaking in Dublin on International Workers Memorial Day, he said that the tower cranes currently dominating the capital’s skyline have the potential to injure crane operators, other building workers and members of the public.

Mr Fitzgerald revealed that Unite has raised its concerns with the HSA and Solas, and he called on employers to enter a “safety pact” with workers.

“On International Workers Memorial Day, we remember all those who have been killed and injured in the course of their work – and we renew our commitment to improving health and safety for all workers.

“Construction work is notoriously hazardous, and among construction workers crane operators – operating at heights of well over 250 feet – are on the health and safety front line.

“When winds hit over 35 miles per hour, the only safe crane is an idle crane.

“Yet Unite has learnt of several instances where crane operators have been forced to work in windy and dangerous conditions hundreds of feet above the ground, contrary to health and safety regulations.  Given the often precarious nature of their employment, many crane operators are unable to refuse such instructions: they know that refusal will mean being out of work.  And it is not only crane operators who are at risk: every lift has the potential to inflict serious injury or death on other building workers or members of the public, which could result in manslaughter charges for the operator.

“Unite has this week written to the Construction Industry Federation and individual employers seeking engagement on a new industry-wide agreement governing the employment of tower crane operators.

“Unite has also written to the Health & Safety Authority regarding these issues, and we have contacted Solas raising concerns about the integrity of the certification process for crane operators.

“In addition to these steps, Unite will be seeking engagement with employers on health and safety.  I am today calling on all construction companies to enter a new safety pact with workers and fully implement all health and safety regulations”, Tom Fitzgerald concluded.

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