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Unite, the construction industry union has urged contractors to take extra care that tower crane drivers receive protection as temperatures during the heatwave can turn their cabs into ‘greenhouse’ like environments.


Unite are calling for crane drivers to be granted extra breaks, as many operators work ten-hour shifts with only one break, and are particularly isolated. The vast majority of tower crane cabs are not air-conditioned, leading them to heat up like greenhouses during the hot weather, according to PCB Today.

It can leave crane drivers with an increased risk of suffering from heat stress which ultimately leads to a lack of concentration on a task that requires concentration, alertness, and accuracy.

As well as installing air conditioning to cabs, Unite 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.

“It is imperative that crane operators are fully protected against extreme heat while at work,” said Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain.

“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.”

He highlighted that crane drivers working under duress from heat stress, heatstroke, and exhaustion are increasing the risk of accidents across the entire site, not just their own health and wellbeing.

The call from Unite comes as some parts of the south-east of England have been reaching temperatures as high as 36C.

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