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CRANE DRIVER FATALLY INJURED IN RIVERSIDE INCIDENT

Operator died after crawler crane toppled into river during de-silting work 

The driver of a crawler crane has died after the crane collapsed into a frozen drainage channel in Cambridgeshire. The incident occurred on a riverside track at Mepal, half way between Ely and Chatteris. Work at the site involved dredging a stretch of the New Bedford River.

On arrival the emergency services discovered the driver cab glass broken and the head of the injured driver above water.

Police heavy-lifting equipment, specialist recovery vehicles and firefighters battled to free the man from the cab. However, the Environment Agency worker had died.

An Environment Agency spokeswoman described the man as a “highly valued member” of their operations delivery staff. HSE has commenced an investigation into the death.

Rescue hampered by weather

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Incident commander Julian Fountain said:

“All agencies have worked extremely closely together to make every effort to fully release the man from the water as quickly as possible. However, due to the location of the crane, the freezing weather conditions and the fact that the man was trapped, this could not happen in time. This is an extremely tragic incident. Our thoughts go out to the man’s family.”

Environment Agency Area Manager Geoff Brighty said:

“I and everyone at the EA are extremely upset by this tragic incident. All our thoughts and sympathies are with our colleague’s family and friends.

We will be mounting a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident and fully co-operating with the HSE investigation. The EA had been carrying out de-silting work along the river for the past couple of weeks to manage flood risk in the area.

The HSE investigation will be completely separate and independent to the EA’s own internal investigation.”

Comment

The majority of crane related incidents involve mobile cranes, although usually wheel mounted rather than crawler type. The key to prevention is thorough and ongoing assessment of ground bearing capacity relative to loads imposed on wheels, outriggers or track.

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