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CRANE FATALITY

No prosecution arising from Liverpool crane collapse 

Investigators have decided not to institute legal proceedings following the death of a worker after a tower crane collapsed in Liverpool on 15th January 2007. HSE have announced that there is insufficient evidence to bring proceedings against any of the parties investigated. The crane collapsed when the slew ring bolts failed and the slew ring fractured, allowing the main crane assembly to fall from its tower and land on the building being constructed. A Polish site worker was killed and the crane driver was injured.

HSE Head of Construction Operations for the North West said we have: “written to all tower crane hirers and suppliers in GB providing them with HSE’s technical conclusions as to the cause of the incident. We have asked them to consider what, if anything, they need to do in the light of these findings. The companies have been asked to consult with tower crane manufacturers (none of which are GB-based) as necessary to inform their considerations and communicate the message to the users of their cranes. HSE is monitoring their responses and stands ready to take any necessary follow-up action.”

Comment:  Regulator decisions on prosecution are based upon an assessment of the extent and strength of (1) evidence and (2) public interest factors. In this case HSE judge that the evidence is insufficient to support legal proceedings. Some may find this conclusion fits uncomfortably with the HSE technical report conclusion that: “the design of the protective device on the fixed block – the single bar – was not adequate to prevent the rope from coming off the pulleys and jump into the gaps between them.” We must assume that HSE did not regard it as reasonably practicable for any party to have foreseen and dealt with this inadequacy prior to the incident.

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