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    CRANE FIRM GUILTY OF CORPORATE MANSLAUGHTER

    Brakes on mobile crane found to be in “shocking condition”

    Baldwins Crane Hire Limited has been convicted (31/11/15) of  Corporate Manslaughter and failing to ensure employee safety following a collision on a quarry access road which lead to the death of 49-year-old Lindsay Easton in August 2011.

    The company will be sentenced on 22 December 2015.

    Preston Crown Court heard that Mr Easton was driving the 130-tonne mobile crane on a road from Scout Moor quarry in Edenfield, near Ramsbottom, when the brake system failed.

    The vehicle was traveling on a steep access road and lost control crashing into an earth bank. The front of the vehicle was crushed and Mr Easton died from multiple injuries.

    Lancashire Police, working with HSE, found several of the wheel brakes were inoperable, worn and contaminated. The engine retarding (braking) systems were also found to be either non-functional, disabled and damaged providing only limited braking force.

    “Systemic” and not confined to the one crane

    Investigators inspected brakes across the company fleet and several other cranes were found to have significant issues which required immediate work. Significant failings were also found within the company structure. There was a lack of supervision and recording taking place of organised maintenance work by senior management.

    The trial also heard the crane was not Mr Easton’s usual vehicle, having replaced another operator when he took over the site operation.

    Det Insp Jim Elston, of Lancashire Police, added:

    “This tragedy was entirely avoidable had the company acted responsibly and ensured their crane fleet was effectively serviced and maintained. It has been shown from all the evidence that the state of the brakes on the crane were in a shocking condition and sadly it was an accident waiting to happen. In a tragic irony the crane in question was not even Mr Easton’s usual crane.

    The company have shown a complete disregard for the safety of their employees and other road users in failing to prioritise the servicing of the braking systems on their vehicles.

    It is clear from the evidence that this was systemic and not confined to the one crane involved in this accident. I can only conclude the company and its chairman Richard Baldwin overlooked necessary inspections and the expenditure needed on repairs and parts in the pursuit of making profit for the company.

    Tragically the gross failings of the company management have led to the death of an experienced crane driver doing his job and caused enduring heartache for his family. I hope these verdicts bring some closure for the family after such a long wait for justice to be done.”

    In a statement, Mr Easton’s family said:

    “We hope that this case has highlighted the need for regular and supervised maintenance of heavy cranes and that lessons can be learned by those in the crane industry. This is so that nobody else loses a loved one in the tragic and avoidable circumstances in which we did.”

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