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August 5, 2009

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Second firm hit with big fine for crane deaths

A crane company must pay a £389,299 penalty after two workers were killed and another seriously injured following the collapse of a tower crane.

The incident took place on a construction site at a school in Durrington, West Sussex, on 11 February 2005. Gary Miles and Steve Boatman were working on the jib of a crane, while a third man was de-torquing bolts on the mast of the crane.

This worker had not been properly trained and he failed to re-tighten the bolts, leaving them part undone. As a result, the crane collapsed as it turned, knocking Mr Miles and Mr Boatmen to the ground. Both died from multiple injuries sustained in the fall, while the third worker suffered broken bones and lacerations.

The company that provided the crane, Eurolift (Tower Cranes) Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of WD Bennett Plant and Services Ltd, was sentenced in June. WD Bennett was found guilty of s3(1) of the HSWA 1974 and reg. 8(3) of the Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996 at a previous hearing on 27 March 2009. It has subsequently gone into administration but was sentenced on 31 July and fined £125,000 with costs of £264,299.

HSE inspector, Peter Collingwood, said: “This fine reflects the seriousness of the company’s breaches of health and safety legislation. The accident, in which two men lost their lives, was avoidable. It was caused by the inadequate supervision of a worker who was not trained, nor competent for the task that he was asked to undertake.

“To avoid future tragedies like this, employers and contractors must ensure that tower-crane work, including erection and dismantling, is only undertaken by trained, experienced and competent people who are supervised adequately.”

You can see more information about this case, and the prosecution of Eurolift (Tower Cranes) Ltd by clicking here.

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