British Standard Code of Practice

British Standard Code of Practice

Summary of Requirements of BS7121 Parts 1 and 3

BS7121 is the British Standard Code of Practice for the Safe Use of Cranes. It is recognised as best practice in the industry and has been drawn up by the industry in conjunction with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). HSE recommends the use of BS7121 to any person or organisation who have duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and who use or hire cranes. Whilst compliance to the code does not in itself confer immunity from legal obligations, failure to comply would be taken as prima facie evidence of failure to provide a safe place of work for employees and contractors.

The code also gives guidance on how to comply with Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Provision and Use of Working Equipment Regulations 1998. Part 1 gives general guidance and recommendations on the use of cranes whilst Part 3 deals specifically with the use of mobile cranes.

The basic requirements of BS7121 are as follows:

Safe System of Work

This should include:

  • Planning of the operation
  • Selection of the crane and suitable lifting equipment
  • Preparation of the site
  • Examination of the crane and equipment
  • Provision of properly trained and competent operatives and supervision
  • Examination of test and other documentation
  • Prevention of unauthorised movement or use
  • Safety of persons not involved in the lifting operations

 

The usual methodology for planning the operation and meeting many of the above requirements is through a Risk Assessment and Method Statement.

Risk Assessment

As part of the planning process a Risk Assessment must be carried out to identify any hazards. The Risk Assessment should:

  • Evaluate the risks
  • Identify any measures required to eliminate or reduce these risks
  • Be unique to the site
  • Be in writing and used for preparation of the Method Statement

Method Statement

Once the Risk Assessment has been completed a full Method Statement should be prepared detailing the safe system of work for the operation. This should include:

  • The task to be achieved
  • Configuration of the crane at the end of the task
  • Steps to eliminate danger to personnel not involved in the lift
  • Clear statements of responsibilities and roles for each member of the team
  • Any site induction requirements

Selection of Personnel

BS7121 sets out guidance for the selection of personnel to carry out the lifting operation and details the minimum attributes, competencies and experience. It also sets out detailed requirements for the training of operatives. All personnel should be:

  • Competent
  • Trained and assessed
  • Able to present a record of training and assessment
  • Physically able to do the work

Further detailed requirements are given for the following categories of personnel:

  • Crane supervisor
  • Crane operator
  • Slinger
  • Signaller

 

All personnel must be trained and competent in the use of the crane signaling as recommended in BS7121 which has become an industry standard.

Selection of Cranes

The Appointed person is responsible for the selection of the most appropriate crane to safely perform the lifting operation. In selecting the crane the following points need to be considered:

  • Mass, dimension and characteristics of the load
  • Operational speeds, radii, height of lift and area of movement
  • Number, frequency and type of lift
  • Length of time crane is required
  • Site, ground and environmental conditions
  • Restrictions arising from existing buildings
  • Space available for crane access, erection and travelling
  • Any other special requirements or limitations

General Safety

In addition to the specific requirements above BS7121 lays down general safety requirements for lifting operations. These include:

  • Wind loading
  • Identification of persons directing the crane
  • PPE
  • Access and emergency escape
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Limiting devices on the crane

Crane Documentation

The Appointed Person or his nominee is responsible for the checking of the required documentation carried by the crane operator. This would include:

  • Rated capacity charts
  • Instruction manuals
  • Reports of Thorough Examination
  • Test Certificates for the crane, ropes, and any equipment used in the lifting operation

Siting of Cranes

The Appointed Person is responsible for the Berthing Study or the siting of the crane, as an integral part of the Method Statement. The siting must take account of:

  • Where the crane will stand and the ground conditions under the crane, its dead weight, the weight of the load and dynamic forces that will occur during lifting
  • Any excavations in the vicinity of the lifting operation
  • The effect of wind on the site
  • Adequacy of access for erection and dismantling as well as the operation of the crane
  • Proximity hazards such as buildings , vehicles, railway lines and overhead cables
  • Recommended clearances
  • Underground hazards such as drains and voids

Please Note: The above summary is for guidance only and should not be taken as comprehensive. Any person organizing a lifting operation must make themselves fully aware of all the requirements of BS7121.

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