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Tower Cranes Not Intended for Rides and Entertainment, IPAF Says

Jan. 8, 2014
IPAF supports the recent position paper issued by the FEM Product Group for Cranes and Lifting Equipment, iterating that the use of tower cranes for purposes of entertainment and circus-type rides is an unsafe and unacceptable practice.

The International Powered Access Federation this week offered support for the position paper issued by the Fédération Européenne de la Manutention Product Group for Cranes and Lifting Equipment, which makes clear that tower cranes are designed and manufactured to lift loads, not people, and that they should not be used for entertainment purposes. In addition, IPAF confirms that such rides will not be permitted at ConExpo/ConAgg March 4-8 in Las Vegas.

FEM is the European manufacturers’ association for material handling equipment. In its position paper dated Nov. 7, the FEM Product Group for Cranes and Lifting Equipment, Sub-Group for Tower and Harbor Cranes states that: “Tower cranes are, in general, designed and manufactured to lift loads as the intended use. All other uses are not allowed by manufacturers. When a user of a tower crane decides to operate a tower crane not in line with the intended use as described by the manufacturer, the user is responsible for a risk assessment according to the national work place safety regulations and he does so under his own responsibility.”

The FEM position paper further states that: “For professional use, national labor regulations may allow tower cranes to be used to hoist and suspend personnel in man baskets only in unique work situations when it is the least hazardous way to do the job… For any other use not described in the instruction handbook (for example, entertainment purposes), national regulations of the member states must be followed.”

The FEM position paper was drafted in response to IPAF’s request for clarification following the sale of crane rides by a company at the bauma construction show in Munich, Germany, earlier this year. IPAF is calling for a ban on the use of cranes for circus rides at all professional construction shows. Several trade magazines also questioned the dubious promotion of “fun flights” at the world’s largest professional construction equipment exhibition.

“The Association of Equipment Manufacturers and its ConExpo/ConAgg show being held from March 4-8 in Las Vegas will not allow rides as a recreational item at the show,” said Al Cervero, vice-president of marketing and global business development at AEM. “It goes against our criteria in our position paper of the Power Crane and Shovel Association, a bureau of the AEM, and against show rules. We encourage demonstrations; however, demos should be real world applications and not in a recreational manner. This is the message being sent to all exhibitors and will be reiterated through our exhibitor messages as we get closer to the show.”

“I cannot imagine allowing the use of tower cranes for some kind of circus ride at Intermat since the show is dedicated to promoting safety in construction and the professional use of construction equipment,” said Maryvonne Lanoe, Intermat director.

“IPAF’s members will not stand by such flagrant disregard of all safety campaigns that are aimed at ensuring that temporary work at height is performed by properly trained operators using machinery designed to lift people,” said IPAF CEO Tim Whiteman. “While such fun rides may not contravene local legislation, they go against safety principles and industry good practice. Falls from height are still the largest workplace killer in Europe and in the USA, and circus entertainment has no place in the professional construction and lifting equipment industry. We welcome the statements from the AEM and the Intermat organizers. Powered access equipment is a safe and effective to lift people to perform temporary work at height. Our industry is safe and we strive to keep it that way.”

IPAF is a not-for-profit members’ organization that promotes the safe and effective use of powered access equipment worldwide. More information is available at