A year after coming out with a categorical statement that mobile cranes must not be used for lifting people for entertainment purposes, the European material handling federation (FEM) has backtracked and said that they can be, as long as risks are assessed.
The use of cranes as fairground rides or for bungee jumping has long been controversial. The UK Health & Safety Executive has sought to take a strict line against what is considers to be equipment abuse while at the same time deferring to FEM, which represents the companies that manufacture the equipment.
In May 2011 the FEM published a position paper, as previously reported, that seemed to bring clarity to the issue. It said then quite clearly: “Mobile cranes shall never be used for entertainment purposes, e.g. lifting of persons for shows, bungee jumping, dinner-in-the-sky or lifting of other structures with people on the structure or underneath (e.g. lifting of tents)”.
It added that mobile cranes are not intended to lift persons. They may be used to hoist and suspend personnel in man baskets, but only in unique work situations when it is the least hazardous way to do the job.
Following lobbying from the company that organises ‘dinner in the sky’ events – in which a table of diners is suspended at height, complete with silver service waiters – FEM has backtracked from that firm line.
It now says that although standard mobile cranes are not intended to be used to suspend persons and/or devices for entertainment purposes, they can be used for this purpose so long as a risk assessment is carried out. Any use of mobile cranes outside the intended use stipulated by the manual is the responsibility of the owner/user, the FEM says.
“When considering lifting of persons, it is required to perform a full and comprehensive risk assessment for the entire application by comparing the standards to which the mobile crane to be used has been designed and manufactured,” the FEM says.
It concludes: “FEM believes that a mobile crane can be used to lift persons if the additional requirements are fulfilled.”
It specifically gives the green light to ‘dinner in the sky’ by stating: “It is believed that it is possible that ‘Dinner in the Sky’ could achieve compliance with the Machinery Directive and other relevant regulations once further assessed by third party.”
The original position paper is here: http://www.fem-eur.com/data/File/N%200284%20FEM%20Postionpaper%20Lifting%20Person%20final%202011-05-04.pdf
All clear now?