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October 16, 2008

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Not enough evidence to prosecute over Liverpool crane collapse

The HSE has decided not to take a prosecution over the collapse of a luffing jib tower crane in Liverpool last year, which resulted in the death of a Polish worker.

This is despite the findings of its investigation into the incident being so serious that it was prompted last month to issue a warning to crane suppliers out of concern for worker safety (click here for more).

The crane collapsed when the slew-ring bolts failed and the slew ring fractured, allowing the main crane assembly to fall from its tower and land upside down on top of the building being constructed. Zbigniew Swirzynski, who was working underneath the crane, was killed and the crane driver was injured (click here for more). An inquest in July this year returned a verdict of accidental death.

The HSE carried out a thorough investigation into the incident, which happened in the city centre on 15 January 2007, in conjunction with Merseyside Police, with assistance from the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL). Because of the seriousness of its findings, it took the unusual step of issuing a warning, while the investigation was ongoing, asking suppliers of luffing tower cranes to take certain actions to prevent a similar incident from occurring again.

Nevertheless, they have now concluded that there is insufficient evidence to bring proceedings against any of the parties investigated, including the crane manufacturer; the crane hirer; the principal contractor running the site; the sub-contractor using the crane at the time of the incident; and the crane driver.

Commenting on the decision, Mike Cross, HSE Head of Operations for construction in the North West said: “This decision was reached after a lengthy and exhaustive investigation into the causes of the collapse, which involved interviews with numerous witnesses and the extensive involvement of HSE and HSL specialists. No effort was spared in determining the cause of this tragic incident, which involved visits to the crane manufacturers in Spain and full engagement with the tower-crane community in GB. We have already contacted Mr Swirzynski’s family to let them know our decision.”

He added that suppliers have been asked to consult with tower-crane manufacturers (none of which are GB-based) as necessary to inform their considerations and communicate the message to the users of their cranes. The HSE will monitor their responses and take any necessary follow-up action.

Concluded Cross: “We are also engaging with a number of other key stakeholders, including the Strategic Forum for Construction and the Crane Plant Hire Association, and with European colleagues, to ensure that lessons learnt from this incident are acted upon.”

Approaches to managing the risks associated Musculoskeletal disorders

In this episode of the Safety & Health Podcast, we hear from Matt Birtles, Principal Ergonomics Consultant at HSE’s Science and Research Centre, about the different approaches to managing the risks associated with Musculoskeletal disorders.

Matt, an ergonomics and human factors expert, shares his thoughts on why MSDs are important, the various prevalent rates across the UK, what you can do within your own organisation and the Risk Management process surrounding MSD’s.

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