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STEEL BEAM PLUMMETED THROUGH OFFICE CEILING

Contractor fined after load from crane lands in office of estate agent   

Pocklington Steel Structures Ltd, of Carnaby East Yorks, has been fined £15,000 after an 80kg steel girder fell from a crane into a shop where two female employees were working.

The girder was one of 18 similar beams to be lifted by crane that morning on the site for a new hotel in Preston during January 2010.

On the morning of the incident girders were being lifted at a 45-degree angle to fit into the new hotel structure. HSE investigators found that no action was taken to prevent the load slipping through the lifting chains wrapped around the beams.

Slinging of load was ineffective

Investigators concluded the beams were not slung safely. The beams should have kept horizontal during the lift and arrangments in place to ensure the girders could not slip from the chains. This could have been achieved by attaching shackles in holes drilled through the beams.

Anthony Polec, the investigating inspector at HSE, said:

“It must have been terrifying for the staff on duty in the estate agents that day when they suddenly heard and then saw a steel girder crashing down next to their desks, right where the public normally stand.

“It was only by chance that the incident happened on a Saturday when fewer staff were at work, and that no members of the public were in the building at the time. For such a high lift, near to people on the ground, it is simply not good enough to wrap chains around girders, in a so-called choke hitch, without securing them.

“Two office workers had a lucky escape but several people could easily have been killed. It’s vital construction companies make sure they use cranes safely to prevent similar incidents happening again.”

Pocklington Steel Structures Ltd admitted breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by putting the lives of workers and the public at risk. In addition to the £15,000 fine, it was also ordered to pay £6,706 in costs.

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