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Crane collapse results in a £55,000 total fine for firms

By Western Gazette - South Somerset  |  Posted: November 30, 2012

LUCKY ESCAPE: Two construction companies have been heavily fined after an 80-tonne crane toppled over at Fernbrook Road, Gillingham in 2009 – narrowly missing workmen and a busy road

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Two construction companies have been ordered to pay a combined sum of more than £55,000 after an 80-tonne crane toppled over.

South West Crane Hire Ltd and contractors JR Pickstock Ltd appeared at Weymouth Magistrates’ Court last week in a prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive.

The incident happened on a building site at Fernbrook Road, Gillingham, on August 18, 2009, during construction of a nursing home.

A serious failure in communications led to the 80-tonne crane toppling over – narrowly missing workmen and the busy B3081.

The court heard confusion arose to whether the job had been set up as a crane hire only or contract hire basis – where planning of the lifting operation is included.

This resulted in planning of the lift being neglected by both firms and vital roles left unassigned. Information including the weights being lifted and ground conditions were also not passed to workers.

A HSE investigation found the lift itself was carried out unsafely as the crane was overloaded and being operated on poor ground. As a result, it overturned and its extended 50-metre jib fell across the site.

HSE inspector Kathy Gostick said: “This incident could have led to death and serious injury. It was a direct result of a catalogue of failures by two construction companies.”

Both construction firms pleaded guilty to the charges brought against them.

South Coast Crane Hire was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £14,917 in costs.

JR Pickstock Ltd was fined £16,000 and ordered to pay £14,917 in costs.

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