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March 19, 2010

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Corus fined GBP 100,000 for crane collapse

Steel manufacturer Corus UK Ltd has been fined £100,000 after an overloaded mobile crane overturned – its second prosecution in the space of two weeks.

On 4 September 2008, crane operator Michael Spiwack was working a night shift at the firm’s steelworks in Rotherham. He was instructed to use a mobile crane to load blocks of steel into a dumper for transfer to the site’s melting shop. He had not been trained in how to use the and crane only had experience of operating overhead cranes.

The machine he was using had been fitted with ‘safe working load’ alarms following concerns over its stability. But these alarms need to be manually reset every time the crane is switched on. Mr Spiwack was not aware of this, and did not check that the alarms were operating after he powered up the crane.

The crane’s maximum load capacity was 10 tonnes and each of the steel blocks weighed around 4 tonnes. He was attempting to lift the blocks individually, but during the first lift the crane’s magnet raised two of the blocks. This put the load at a level above the crane’s load capacity, but, as the alarm had not been reset, Mr Spiwack was unaware that the machine was overburdened. As he attempted to move the load, the crane toppled over and came to rest against a skip.

Mr Spiwack was able to escape through a broken window in the driver cab before the crane fell off the side of the skip and hit the ground. He escaped with only minor injuries.

HSE inspector Geoff Clark said: “This is a serious health and safety breach by a company that globally employs tens of thousands of people which could easily have led to people being killed. The operator was extremely lucky to escape with only minor injuries.

“Today’s hearing highlights the importance of having an effective system in place for managing health and safety to stop easily avoidable incidents. In this case the measures in place were simply inadequate – in particular, there was a substantial failure to provide enough suitable training.”

Corus appeared at Sheffield Crown Court on 12 March and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974. In addition to the fine it was ordered to pay full costs of £9908.

A spokesman from the company told SHP: “The health and safety of our employees is Corus’ number one priority. The company has significantly improved its health and safety performance at its South Yorkshire operations in the last ten years, and continues to invest in health and safety initiatives.

“Although the driver escaped with only minor injuries, Corus is aware the incident could have had more serious consequences.

“We launched an immediate investigation following the incident, and fully co-operated with the Health and Safety Executive throughout their investigation. The company promptly implemented a number of enhancements to its training procedures and plant equipment to ensure a similar incident cannot happen again.”

SHP reported earlier this month that Corus was fined £5000 after a worker suffered a broken leg while trying to clear a blockage on a production line.

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14 years ago

Although the operator escaped unharmed thank god: the operator should have known the capacity in which his initial training is covered, and for what machinery however the management at the time should have known the operators capabillities and working knowlege and experience at the time of asking him to work above his abillities.