Construction firm fined after allowing crane to lift weight almost three times more than its recommended limit leading to workman’s death… A 26 year-old man was killed after an overloaded crane tipped over and inflicted fatal crush injuries on the young father who had been working on excavating a basement in Hampstead.
The building firm he worked for pleaded guilty to breaching lifting regulations under the Health and Safety Act 1974 and were fined £80,000 and ordered to pay £66,244 costs at the Old Bailey. A director of the firm also pleaded guilty to breaching the regulations and was fined £7,500 and ordered to pay £25,000 in costs.
The HSE investigation into the accident revealed that the crane collapsed after it had been hoisting a skip which weighed in excess of almost three times the recommended weight for the crane to carry. An alarm system that should have been able to disable the crane wasn’t functioning and the supervisor of the crane lift was not present when the tragedy occurred.
As well as the results of the HSE investigation, the court also heard that a lift plan which is an important written document required by law at construction sites could not be found and “any sort of planning was sketchy at best”, according to barrister James Ageros.
Another oversight that had a direct bearing on the accident was the meeting of the site supervisors, on the morning of the accident where they mistakenly decided the lifting potential of the crane was up to the task of holding the skip.
Mr Ageros said: “The risk associated with this type of work was high. The assessment of this fell considerably short of standards expected of them. There was a real dearth of planning. If the lift had not been attempted, Mr Page would not have been killed.”
HSE inspector Dominic Ellis also commented on the accident: “The attempted lift of a liquid concrete load at a distance far in excess of the crane’s safe working parameters was wholly inappropriate. The potential for overturn in these circumstances is well known, entirely foreseeable and could have been simply prevented.”
Judge Beaumont told the court that the fines imposed on the company were not a reflection on the value of the victim: “There are those who cared for the victim, who was doing a job to support his family, who will struggle to understand this fine.”
He added: “The purpose of this prosecution is not to compensate the victim or the victim’s family but to encourage other companies to fulfil their duty to employees. It is not a measure of the value of life that was lost.”