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CONSTRUCTION HEALTH AND SAFETY NEWS: 02 JUNE 2008

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Philip Poynter   

CRANE SAFETY

Worthing double fatality leads to prosecution of crane contractors

In February 2005 two men died when a tower crane collapsed on a major construction project in Sussex. A third man was seriously injured. Two crane companies have now been charged with offences arising from the incident. An inquest had earlier found that the incident involved ‘loosened bolts’ on the crane. The crane was being dismantled at the time of the incident.

Two dead in a second New York major crane collapse

For the second time in 2 months New York City has experienced a fatal crane collapse. The incident caused the death of the crane operator and another construction worker. A third worker was seriously injured and a pedestrian received minor injuries. The pictures and video footage show that this incident could have had a much more serious outcome.

Summary and analysis of UK crane incidents

This Contract Journal article provides an excellent summary of recent UK crane incidents and the issues involved.

Comment: The construction industry in both the UK and USA must be wondering when such bad news on tower crane safety will come to an end. The immediate ‘causes’ of a tower crane collapse are limited and include:

  • Internal factors: component failure due to fatigue, overload, shock loading, poor maintenance or incorrect rigging;
  • External factors: crane clash, structure struck by a falling load, vehicle/mobile plant or use in wind near to limits.

Establishing ‘underlying causes’ is rather more difficult. Training and competence of the organisations and individuals involved in the erection and dismantling of cranes will probably be at the heart of many incidents. The safe use of tower cranes requires full understanding of instructions provided by the crane manufacturer regarding erection, use and maintenance coupled with their meticulous implementation. 

Mini crawler crane safety alert

An Australian health and safety authority has issued a warning on the use of mini crawler cranes after several cranes overturned. Advice is given on minimising the risk when operating these small versatile cranes.

FATAL AND OTHER INCIDENTS

Construction fatal injuries February and March 2008

HSE now publish, in the Chief Executives monthly report, a brief account of the initial notification of fatalities received at their offices. The details provided regarding construction sector related deaths during February and March 2008 are reproduced verbatim below:

  • Fell through roof – Norwich
  • Fell through roof – Wembley
  • Found dead in new build block – Hamilton
  • Trapped between cherry picker and steel frame – North Lanarkshire
  • Fell from ladder – Kilmarnock
  • Fell in hallway into gripper rod [sic]- Llandudno
  • Found dead at foot of scaffold access ladder – East Sussex
  • Fell 50ft onto a high platform – Sutton
  • Electrocuted whilst repairing washing machine – Bristol

Excavator driver plunges to his death 

Trains halted after bridge failure in London

PROSECUTIONS

Contractor fined for unsafe working at height

A roofing contractor has been fined a £2k and ordered to pay costs of £500 after two employees were spotted by a passing HSE inspector carrying out repairs on a roof without any measures in place to prevent falls. There where areas with a potential fall of 10m.

Comment: Fatalities in the refurbishment sector rose by more than 50 per cent in 2006/7 and falls from height remain the main cause of death in that sector. This prosecution demonstrates that where there is a serious and obvious risk, HSE will prosecute whether or not an injury has occurred.

Prosecutions added to the HSE database in the last week  

The above link finds prosecutions taken by HSE Construction Division that have been added to the database in the last week. The 8 records relate to 5 cases that involved, telehandler striking a pedestrian; double fatality after overhead cable strike; schoolchild injured during roofwork; unsatisfactory asbestos removal work and; unsafe demolition work.    

WASTE MANAGEMENT AND SAFETY

Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP)

‘WRAP helps individuals, businesses and local authorities to reduce waste and recycle more, making better use of resources and helping to tackle climate change’ WRAP have a dedicated construction programme working to set standards for good practice in waste and resource management for the construction industry.

Comment: There is a clear link between waste, safety, housekeeping and requirements for construction Waste Management Plans which came into force in April 2008.  Where there is a lack of good order and poor housekeeping on construction projects it is intimately connected with a failure to reduce and manage waste.

REFURBISHMENT

HSE refurbishment campaign continues

During 2008 HSE are targeting poor performing sectors of the construction industry, including ‘intensive inspection initiatives’. Homebuild and refurbishment (commercial and domestic) have been identified as targets. Refurbishment accounts for 60% of all accidents in construction despite representing only 40% of all construction activity. This initiative follows on from the HSE refurbishment campaign in February 2008 and dutyholders can expect strong enforcement action where poor health and safety standards are present on site.

HSE ENFORCEMENT NOTICES

Enforcement notices added to the HSE database in the last week

The above link finds the 26 Prohibition and Improvement Notices issued by HSE Construction Division and added to the database in the last week.  

SPOTLIGHT ON PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

This section features websites providing products or services relevant to a key construction sector hazard. This week we focus on Hand Arm Vibration.

  1. Fivesquared: consultants providing vibration and noise management solutions and products to control, manage and reduce HAVS, whole body vibration and noise
  2. MrCropper: 8 different cropper machines for a variety of pile cutting tasks.
  3. HAVSRiskManagement: products, information and software for HAVS management
  4. Brokk: supplier of remote controlled demolition robots

OTHER NEWS

Mens health week

Man rescued from cherry picker

New York spends additional $5m on construction inspectors

Caterpillar excavator and other plant safety guidance

Council guilty of systematic management failure over asbestos

END

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