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FIRM PROSECUTED OVER CRANE COLLAPSE IN 2006

Crane hire company fined £750,000 following major collapse

A national crane hire company has been prosecuted following the collapse of a tower crane on a housing development in London in 2006 which caused the death of two men.

Southwark Crown Court heard how crane operator Jonathan Cloke, aged 37, died after falling from the crane as it collapsed and that Michael Alexa, 23, a member of the public, also died in the incident.

Sections of the tower crane separated when 24 bolts failed due to metal fatigue. The slew ring bolts connected the mast (tower) to the slew turret which allows the jib to rotate through 360 degrees.

When the bolts failed the slew turret and jib separated from the mast and fell to the ground.

Failing bolts an “exceptional and significant occurrence”

HSE told the court that the company did not adequately investigate an incident, nine weeks earlier, in which bolts failed on the same crane and were replaced.

The company process to investigate the underlying cause of component failings was inadequate. Failure of the bolts was an “exceptional and significant occurrence” which HSE said should have been recognised as such by the company.

Falcon Crane Hire Ltd was fined £750,000 and ordered to pay costs of £100,000 for breaching Sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act.  Mike Wilcock, HSE Head of Operations, said:

“Jonathan and Michael’s deaths were tragic, needless and entirely avoidable. These two men need not have died had Falcon Crane Hire taken the right, decisive action when the bolts failed the first time. The company fell far short of its health and safety obligation.”

Oliver Campbell, defending, said:

“The company’s directors will always have to live with the knowledge that they should and could have done better with this accident. The company since scrapped all the cranes in that model and changed all its inspection procedures.

The company sent their most experienced engineer to check the crane and there was nothing that constituted a fundamental breach that required the crane to be put out of service.”

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