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HOMES FIRM IN COURT OVER TOWER CRANE INCIDENT

Magistrates refuse to sentence in case of falling tower crane jib

It has been reported (05 July 2013) by the Saffron Walden News that homes developer McCarthy & Stone has been committed to the crown court for sentence after a tower crane jib fell 80ft and narrowly missed a primary school two days before Christmas 2011.

There were no injuries caused by the incident although 40 residents were ‘evacuated’ from their homes in Saffron Walden Hertfordshire because of the potential danger.

Magistrates held that their powers to impose a maximum fine of £20,000 were insufficient and committed the case to Chelmsford Crown Court for sentence. The project had just closed for the festive break when the jib partially collapsed at 4.30pm on December 23 2011 “because bolts had not been sufficiently tensioned or lubricated”.

HSE prosecutor Norman Macritchie told the court that during a test operation 13 days before the incident a “crane rope broke”. The company performed a visual check on crane components rather than a thorough examination. He added:

“They should have replaced all the bolts or at least checked with a torque wrench whether they were still correctly applied. 

McCarthy & Stone Retirement Lifestyles pleaded guilty to two offences under Health and Safety legislation between 14 and 24 December 2011. Richard Barraclough QC said McCarthy & Stone accepted that two inspections were inadequate and did not reveal the defect in the bolts which had not been sufficiently tensioned or lubricated.

The company will be sentenced on August 8 2013.

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