UK: With UK temperatures soaring, the Unite trades union is calling for tower crane cabs to be fitted with air conditioning.
The 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.
Unite accepts that 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.
The union says that the vast majority of cranes are not fitted with air conditioning, meaning that in hot weather they become glorified “greenhouses” putting tower crane operators at “extreme risk” from heat stress and undermining their ability to concentrate in a job that demands total accuracy at all times.
While Unite believes that all tower crane cabs should be fitted with air conditioning, in the meantime the union is calling for extended and more frequent breaks and to ensure that operators have access to cold water.
“It is imperative that crane operators are fully protected against extreme heat while at work,” said Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain.
“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.”