The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has hit back at the critics of silencing the bells during the tower restoration project.
The most famous clock in the world fell silent yesterday after chiming at mid-day for the last time until 2021 so that essential restoration work can be carried out to the tower..
Steve Jaggs, Keeper of the Great Clock, said the programme of works will “safeguard the clock on a long term basis, as well as protecting and preserving its home – the Elizabeth Tower”.
However, the plans are now being questioned by some MP’s as to why the clock has to be entirely silenced for such a long period other than New Year and Remembrance Sunday.
Further questions are being asked as to the extent of the agreed works, including a lift that will only go three quarters of the way up.
In response, a HSE spokesperson said they had been concerned by a minority reaction to yesterday’s announcement relating to the silencing of Big Ben in London.
The HSE further added that no person’s health should be made worse by the work they do, and that includes hearing loss. “We find any attempt to trivialise this extremely unhelpful”
This has been one of many projects where the HSE work with contractors in the planning stages, and have noted how intricate, complex and challenging this particular project is going to be. It’s further understood that health and safety aside, the challenges this project faces would have silenced Big Ben’s chimes for at least two years in any case.
The HSE stated:
“While we were aware part of the project related to the clock, we have not been involved in discussions about how that work will be specifically carried out.”
“There is broad agreement that the noise risks associated with working around the clock bells are highly significant and we would expect the principal contractor to manage those risks. How it does so is a matter for those involved and their client.”