Tower crane supplier fined after crane collapse during dismantling
WD Bennett Plant & Services Ltd has been ordered to pay almost £400k in fines and prosecution costs after being found guilty of two breaches of HSW Act 1974 that led to the death of two workers and severly injured a third man.
The company had been charged alongside Eurolift (Tower Cranes) Limited which pleaded guilty to two health and safety breaches at the beginning of the trial.
The prosecution followed an incident on a construction site in Worthing, Sussex on 11 February 2005. The two men who died, Steve Boatman and Gary Miles, had been working on the jib of a crane.
The third workman was working on the mast of the crane and was instructed to begin de-torquing the mast bolts. He was not trained in this job and the way he carried out this work caused the crane to collapse.
HSE Inspector Peter Collingwood said: “This 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.”
Comment: Since this incident HSE and the construction industry has worked with stakeholders to improve standards in the erection, use, maintenance and dismantling of tower cranes.
The Strategic Forum for Construction set up a tower crane working group to identify and address areas where improvement was required. The group produced guidance on best practice.
It has been reported that WD Bennett Plant Services Ltd is in administration which must raise doubt that payment of the financial penalty and prosecution costs will ever be secured.