Crane hire firm fined for breach of HSE rules after worker's death

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A FLINTSHIRE company has been fined £4,500 after a man was crushed to death by a crane.

Bryn Thomas Crane Hire Ltd, of Chester Road, Oakenholt, Flint, admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act and the provision and use of work equipment regulations at Liverpool Crown Court, following the death of Richard Mark Thornton.

The 46-year-old, from Longridge, near Preston, died when a 50-tonne crane toppled over while moving a six-tonne steel column on March 29, 2007, in Liverpool.

The father-of-two, who was known as Mark, had been helping to construct a new floor on a warehouse at Wavertree Business Park when he was struck by the column.

The crane hire firm, crane operator Frederick Scott and steel erection company Siteweld Construction Ltd, were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following his death.

The external alarm could not be heard by those working nearby and the override switches were faulty, including the switch that prevented the crane lifting loads beyond its capacity.

Scott, 45, who was employed by Bryn Thomas as the crane’s operator, also failed to check the crane could safely lift the steel beam. By lifting the load when it was nearly 18 metres away, he took the crane “well outside its safe limit”.

Scott, of Flatt Lane, Ellesmere Port, admitted a breach of health and safety and was fined £2,500 with no costs  because of his current financial situation.

Mr Thornton’s employer, Siteweld Construction Ltd, of Berry Lane, Longridge, Preston, pleaded guilty to breaching lifting operations and lifting equipment regulations by failing to make sure the work was planned and carried out safely.

The company will be sentenced on June 10 to allow time for its current financial position to be assessed.

Sarah Wadham, HSE inspector, said: “There were a number of opportunities by different duty holders to prevent this accident because if work on cranes is properly planned it can be undertaken safely and properly if cranes are well maintained.”

See full story in the Leader

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