THE HEALTH & Safety Executive (HSE) last week ordered crane hire company Falcon to take 160 of its tower cranes out of service until they have been checked by an independent safety expert.
The move follows fatal collapses of two of the company's tower cranes in the last four months.
A site worker was killed on Monday last week when a Falcon luffing jib crane toppled in Liverpool. The crane's operator was also badly injured.
And two people were killed when a saddle jib tower crane collapsed at Battersea, London, last September (NCE 5 October 2006).
Falcon currently has 170 tower cranes in use on construction sites across the country.
'We are conscious of the severe disruption this [prohibition] will cause but we are sure that the industry will support our action in the interests of safety, ' the HSE said in a statement.
Investigations into both collapses are still under way and it is not yet clear what caused them, the HSE said. But until it does it has taken a 'precautionary approach' by taking its cranes out of operation until they have been independently checked The HSE added that cranes which have already been independently examined are not affected by the prohibition and will be able to carry on working.
A spokesman for Falcon Crane Hire said that 160 of its fleet were affected by the prohibition.
The company is working with 12 independent experts to get all of the cranes back to work, he added.
Most of Falcon's cranes were expected to be back in operation by the end of this week, he said.
The HSE this week also sent out a notice to all crane operators reminding them that:
tower cranes must be erected and dismantled by competent people
cranes should be examined after erection by an independent competent person
pre-use checks should be carried out by the crane operator at the start of each shift
weekly in-service inspections should be carried out by the crane operator
cranes should be subject to a maintenance schedule.