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CRANE HIRE COMPANY AND CONTRACTOR PROSECUTED

Confusion over responsibilities caused overturn landing both parties in court

Crane hire company, South Coast Crane Hire Ltd, and  principal contractor JR Pickstock Ltd have been fined after a serious failure in communications led to an 80 tonne mobile crane to collapse and narrowly miss workmen and a busy road during construction of a new nursing home in Gillingham on 18 August 2009.

Weymouth Magistrates heard (21 November) there was confusion as to whether procurement of the crane was on a ‘crane hire’ or ‘contract hire’ basis and therefore over who was planning of the lifting operation.

Vital management arrangements and precautions missing

This confusion resulted in planning of the lift being neglected by both firms and vital roles for the job not being assigned and tasks undertaken. The court heard that:

  • the hire contract should have met industry guidance requiring a person appointed to plan the lift;
  • the lift plan should have been drawn-up by the competent person and communicated to those involved;
  • the person should have been provided by the hire firm under ‘contract hire’ or hirer under ‘hire-only';
  • the crane hire company should have ensured clarity when the the contract was made;
  • important information e.g. weight being lifted and ground conditions, were not passed to those involved;
  • the lifting operation was carried out unsafely as the crane was overloaded; and
  • ground mats were needed to spread the load imposed by the crane outriggers.

The principal contractor should also have taken all reasonable steps to ensure the construction phase plan identified risks to health and safety and included measures to address risks.

Clearly established responsibities could have prevented overturn

South Coast Crane Hire Ltd, of Portland pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 8(1)c of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 and was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £14,917 in costs.

JR Pickstock Ltd, of Oswestry pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 23(1) a of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and was fined £16,000 and also ordered to pay £14,917 in costs.

HSE inspector Kathy Gostick, speaking after the hearing, said:

“This incident could have led to death and serious injury and was a direct result of a catalogue of failures by two construction companies

Good communications between all those involved in crane operations and all other construction activities is vital to ensure lifting operations are properly planned, particularly those involving the use of heavy mobile cranes working in a busy area such as a construction site.

Had it been clearly established by both South Coast Crane Hire and JR Pickstock who was responsible for planning the lift when the lift hire contract was set up is highly unlikely that the crane would have overturned putting a number of workers and people on the road at unnecessary risk.”

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One Response to “CRANE HIRE COMPANY AND CONTRACTOR PROSECUTED”

  1. CRANE HIRE COMPANY FINE REDUCED ON APPEAL | PP Construction Safety News Desk Says:

    […] Weymouth Magistrates in November 2012 after admitting an offence arising from a crane overturning incident in 2009. The company hiring the crane, JR Pickstock Ltd, was also prosecuted by […]