The current heatwave in the southeast of England has prompted the Unite trades union to called for air conditioning in tower crane cabs in the longer term. In the short term, it wants measures to safeguard those stuck in glass boxes all day.
The construction union has written to the UK’s largest construction companies to seek assurances that safety measures are in place to ensure that tower crane operators are not being placed at risk due to high temperatures.
While responsible contractors will ensure that most construction workers receive extra breaks to guard against heat stress, this often does not apply to tower crane operators who often only receive one break during a 10 hour shift.
Unite believes that all tower crane cabs should be fitted with air-conditioning but in the meantime the union is calling for the following minimum standards
- All break times must only start once the operator has reached the site canteen
- No operator to work longer than 3 hours without a break
- A mini fridge/cooler to be placed in all tower crane cabs to ensure the operator has access to cold water
- Bottled drinking water to be supplied free of charge.
Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain said: “It is imperative that crane operators are fully protected against extreme heat while at work.
“Unite has written to the largest construction contractors seeking assurances that minimum standards are in place to ensure that the health of tower crane operators is being protected.
“If a tower crane operator suffers from heat stress, not only is their own health being put at risk but if they are involved in an accident the entire site could be in danger.
“The long-term solution is for all tower crane cabs to be air conditioned. In the short term, drivers must receive additional breaks, which begin when they reach the canteen, a fridge or cooler is installed in the cab and sufficient quantities of bottled water are freely supplied.”