Simpson explained that the current work on revision of Part 4 (loader cranes) and similar work on Part 3 (mobile cranes) would aim to more clearly define different types of lift, and bring a proportional approach to how different lifts are planned

.Simpson said, “There’s been a working group looking at the revision of BS 7121 Part 4, with members from the loader industry and the mobile crane industry. Part 1 [general] and Part 5 [tower cranes] were both revised in 2006. Part 4 was issued before LOLER/PUWER [the UK lifting regulations], so the revision is aimed at reflecting that.

“The problem is, Part 4 isn’t risk based. It includes a distinction between basic and complex lifts, but these aren’t well defined, and what needs to be done in each case isn’t specified.

“When assessing whether a lift is complex or basic, you need to look at the load and the environment. You could be lifting a simple load in a complex environment, or a complex load in a simple environment.

“For example, a lot of builders’ merchants will deliver bags of sand, unloading them beside the lorry. That would be a basic lift. If you need to lift the same load over an obstacle, blind, that would be a standard lift. If you’re lifting the same load in a chemical works, and over obstacles, that will be a complex lift.

“For a basic lift, a generic risk assessment and method statement would be acceptable. For a standard or complex lift, the company’s appointed person needs to prepare a site specific risk assessment and lift plan. You need to collect information on the site you are going to.

“We’re trying to introduce a level playing field. Part 3, which covers mobile cranes, is also one-size-fits-all. It also requires more work on more complex jobs, but on some crane hire jobs, for example when a structural steel company is hiring a crane, that isn’t happening.

“People need to get into the practice of assessing the load and the environment. We need to get the amount of work and risk assessment proportional to the job being done.

“It’s very infrequent in the UK that we get problems with heavy lifts, over 400t. It’s at the bottom end where, for commercial reasons, crane users aren’t doing all the work; people are confusing basic lifts and standard lifts.

“We’re working on the draft to Part 4 at the moment. That will come out in the new year. There’ll be an official review period, and then the revised standard will be published at the end of 2009. The draft of Part 3 will be released in mid-2009, with the final version published at the start of 2010.

“LOLER Regulation 8 requires that all lifting operations are planned, supervised and carried out safely. The proposed revisions to BS7121 Part 4 will provide guidance as to how duty holders can comply with legal requirements as well as improving overall levels of safety and reduce accidents.”