Crane Hire Company Prosecuted by Health & Safety Executive
A national crane hire company has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for safety breaches following an incident in which a crane collapsed, killing two men.
In September 2006, Jonathan Cloke, 37, fell to his death as the crane he was operating collapsed. A member of the public, Michael Alexa, 23, also died after the crane fell onto him.
Southwark Crown Court heard that parts of the tower crane started to separate when 24 bolts failed due to ‘metal fatigue’. The tower or mast of the crane and the crane itself (the jib) separated and fell to the ground as the bolts, a significant safety feature of the structure, failed.
After an investigation into the incident by the HSE, it was found that the company had failed to look into a similar incident with the same crane just nine weeks earlier. During this earlier incident the bolts had also failed and required replacing.
Following their inspection, HSE determined that Falcon Crane Hire Ltd’s system of managing the inspection and maintenance of their fleet of cranes was lacking. It was also found that the process the company had in place to investigate the primary cause of a components’ failings was also inadequate.
Southwark Crown Court also heard that the bolts failing in an earlier incident was an ‘exceptional and significant occurrence’ that should have been acknowledged by the crane hire company.
Sentencing & Fines
Falcon Crane Hire Ltd was fined a total of £750,000 and ordered to pay costs of £100,000 after being found guilty of breaching Sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act.
Michael’s mother, Lilliana Alexa, said on behalf of her family:
“Michael was a lovely son, a wonderful big brother and a devoted father. His son has had to grow up without the love and support of Michael, who adored him. He was denied that opportunity because his life was taken away and with his, ours too.
“The memories of that day will never leave our family. We heard the crash and felt the ground shake. I found Michael and it’s an image that haunts my nightmares. If only we had stopped to chat or parked the car somewhere else he would still be alive. We know we are not to blame but it does not stop us all feeling guilt.
“We cannot comprehend how our beloved son, brother, father and friend who was so full of live has gone. The whole crane industry must learn from our tragedy and the devastation it has caused. We do not want another family to endure the same pain of losing their child.”
HSE Head of Operations, Mike Wilcock said:
“Jonathan and Michael’s deaths were tragic, needless and entirely avoidable. These two men need not have died had Falcon Crane Hire taken the right, decisive action when the bolts failed the first time. The company fell far short of its health and safety obligation.”
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Source: Health & Safety Executive