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April 20, 2012

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Ventilation unit fell 15m from crane and hit pedestrian

A member of the public was seriously injured when a piece of machinery fell from a crane and struck her while she waited for a bus.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that the woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, was waiting at a bus stop in York Road in London, when the incident took place on 26 September 2008.

A nearby office block was being refurbished by Concentra Ltd and the firm had erected a mast climber around the building, which allowed workers to be raised and lowered on the outside of the building.

Workers were using a crane and lifting slings to raise an air-handling unit, which weighed 380kg. The crane was not fitted correctly and the unit struck the mast climber during the lift, knocking it out of the sling and causing it to fall 15 metres. The unit landed on the woman and she suffered multiple broken ribs and minor head injuries. She spent eight days in hospital owing to her injuries.

The HSE visited the site on the day of the incident and issued a Prohibition Notice, which ordered Concentra to stop lifting equipment until a safe system of work was put in place.

HSE inspector Bose Ogunsekan said: “Concentra Ltd failed in its duty to manage the safety of persons affected by its activities. A high-risk activity, such as using a crane to lift this sort of load on the site, should have been fully risk-assessed during the planning stages of the project.

“In addition, further measures that would have also protected members of the public from site traffic, such as an alternative pedestrian route and a temporary bus stop elsewhere, could have prevented injury to passers-by.”

Concentra appeared in court on 18 April and pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) of the HSWA 1974. It was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £21,000 in costs.

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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Andy
Andy
12 years ago

Interesting to see Bob quote the absolute duty “Where practicable” .
Is it practicable to move people out of the area under the planned lift ?
Yes it can always be done… it may be unreasonable, expensive and awkward, but there is no room for those excuses in LOLER is there ?
Perhaps the reason the Aussie PCs didn’t bring their best practice over with them is that they were working in London where the regulation isn’t strictly enforced.

Bob
Bob
12 years ago

So all crane lifts about pedestrain routes now require pedestrain diversion?

What about all those lifts overhead of site personel, are they now to be stopped?

Maybe securing the load and avoiding impact when lifting would be more beneficial?

There must be a lot of AP`s out there deeply concerned by the statement made by this HSE Inspector. Can you imagine the cost implications of this approach in the City.

What about all the scaffold that gets lifted daily over head with no exclusion below?

Bob
Bob
12 years ago

Why is it that items of plant designed to be used on roofs are seldom provided with lifting points?

Using slings on steel is not the most secure method of lifting. There is no mention of the AP who should have foreseen the risks involved.

Additionally HSE state the crane was not fitted correctly?

So why no prosecution of either the AP and or the Crane Operator / Installer?

LOLER and CDM apply, yet no charges for either were deemed relevant?

Why have regulations if no charges apply?

Bob
Bob
12 years ago

LOLER reg 8(1)(c) Working Under Suspended Loads

Where Practicable loads should not be carried or suspended over areas occupied by persons.

Where this is not practicable you should establish a SSoW which minimises risk to those below.

The 2nd scenario is “accepted” for inclusion in most circumstances on multi disipline sites where at some stage work will continue beneath lifting and slewing, particuarly when using Tower Cranes for concrete frames etc.

Rarely see an engineered crash deck used

Bob
Bob
12 years ago

I worked for an Aussie outfit at both Wembley and White City where they were the PC and at both sites numerous overhead lifting and slewing took place, as well as chaps working overhead.

They obviously did not bring your adopted practice with them?

The prevention of lifting and slewing overhead is without doubt the safe way to do it.

But in practice it is often ignored. I never said I agreed with it, just that it occurs.

Bob
Bob
12 years ago

The LOLER regulations place a duty to adopt a lifting plan.

The Lifting Plan requires the route of lift is to be assessed by a competent person, this was evidently not undertaken hence the impact when the load was raised.

Additionally the load was suspended in slings, no cradle or boat was adopted to reduce displacement whilst lifting slewing (best lifting pratice not observed).

The duty of assessment lays with the AP, regardless of a contract lift or employee.

Bobwallace5
Bobwallace5
12 years ago

Agreed Bob. Since when did the HSE live in the real world though! A very simplistic approach, which would not always work in practice. Making the lift operation safe in the first place, using competent people with good quality equipment is the key.
No mention of time constraints or pressure, so what actually caused the failure? Will have to wait until SHP comes out to find out further probably.

James
James
12 years ago

Interesting comments on lifting loads over people. I work for an Australian mining company that undertakes construction work in processing plants and has a strict rule that no person must ever be under a suspended load. To help make this happen all lift areas are barricaded. We do not have the public to consider but there are pedestrians present if construction takes place in an operating plant. Not working under suspended loads is just the way we do business. It can be done if you want to.

Tanczosp
Tanczosp
12 years ago

If they had an adequate lifting plan that ensured the load was secured and avoided impact when lifting, it would be very difficult for HSE to prove that a Safe System of Work had not been employed. If the lifting plan was suitable & sufficient, then the likelihood is that you would have seen a prosecution of the AP and the crane operator. “everyone else was speeding/thieving/oversailing, why are you prosecuting me?” just doesn’t wash. Vicarious liability applies so the Client was prosecuted.

Tanczosp
Tanczosp
12 years ago

The punishment for breaching HSWA is more severe. HSE only get one bite of the cherry and often default to S3(1) where proving guilt beyond reasonable doubt may be problematic for a specific offence. Failure of a general duty to manage safety is easier to prove than whether the specifics of a system of work are safe/unsafe. With a contract lift the AP and Crane user would have been the duty holders. If the crane was hired, the PC is dutyholder.