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Crane Hire Company Fined Over Two Deaths

PLEASE NOTE: Information in this article is correct at the time of publication, please contact DFA Law for current advice on older articles.

Falcon Crane Hire Limited, a company that specialises in the hire and sale of tower cranes, has been sentenced for health and safety failings that led to the death of two men when a crane collapsed during work on a housing development site in London.

Crane operator Jonathan Cloke, 37, died after falling from the crane as it collapsed. Michael Alexa, 23, a member of the public, was crushed to death when it fell.

Southwark Crown Court heard how sections of the tower crane separated when 24 bolts failed owing to metal fatigue. The bolts were a significant safety feature on the crane’s slew ring, which connects the tower to the slew turret and allows the jib of the crane to rotate through 360 degrees. When the bolts failed, the slew turret and jib separated from the tower and fell to the ground.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and found that the company had failed to examine the circumstances of a similar occurrence nine weeks earlier, when the bolts on the same crane failed and had to be replaced.

The HSE found that the company’s system for managing the inspection and maintenance of its fleet of cranes was inadequate, as was its process for investigating the underlying cause of components’ failings. The bolts in question were a safety critical part of the crane: the previous failure was an exceptional and significant occurrence, which should have been recognised.

Falcon Crane Hire was fined £750,000 and ordered to pay costs of £100,000 for breaching Sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Mike Wilcock, HSE Head of Operations, said, “Jonathan and Michael’s deaths were tragic, needless and entirely avoidable. These two men need not have died had Falcon Crane Hire taken the right, decisive action when the bolts failed the first time. The company fell far short of its health and safety obligation.”

Contact Paul Currie for advice on any health and safety law matter.

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