The Irish Health & Safety Authority has said that contractors should leave safety decisions regarding cranes up to the crane drivers themselves.

The warning comes after a crane driver was let go by R&B Construction from a hotel extension site in Dublin after he refused to go up a tower crane in high winds.

Wind speeds on the day in question, shortly before Christmas, were estimated at 105kph, the HSA said. Safe working for the Wolff tower crane was about 60kph maximum wind speed.

“It was one of those heated incidents,” said HSA inspector Vincent McGauran. “There was a little outbreak of hostilities and the chap was let go. It’s a bad business.” Crane operator Liam Boland was not directly employed by the contractor but was brought in to operate the contractor’s crane. Had Boland been operating, and employed by, a rental company’s crane, the situation might have been less difficult, McGauran suggested.

McGauran said that the incident brought to the fore the issue of who takes charge of safety. “The crane driver is the best person to make the judgement of what’s safe,” he said.

“This is the first time I’ve had a complaint like this to investigate. By and large, crane drivers are given the authority to make up their minds, and that’s the way it should be,” McGauran added.

He confirmed that there had been a breach of safety and that a prosecution of the contractor was being considered.