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Crane crashes into shopping mall

An All Terrain crane crashed through the roof of a shopping centre in Johannesburg, South Africa this morning seriously injuring a man.

The crane, a five axle Grove GMK owned by Babcock Plant, was preparing to lift an air conditioning unit at the Golden Walk shopping centre, in Germiston when it overturned.
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The overturned crane

The crane had no counterweight fitted and was short rigged on the lift side, and it looks as if the front outrigger has punched through the ground- no mats were used.

The boom came down on top of the Woolworths store seriously injuring at least one man, while 22 others received minor scrapes or were suffering from shock.
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It looks as though the front outrigger punched through into a void

Vertikal Comment

What is so difficult about using outrigger mats and setting a crane up properly?

Unless we are missing something the likelihood of this crane going over were ridiculously high. In an environment like this the chances of finding a void of some sort are almost a given, then to short rig on the lift side when you have no counterweight on the space required is available?!?

This sort of incident should not be happening with cranes like this, their operation should be restricted to people who at least understand the basics.

This looks like a much larger crane than was required was drafted in for a quick lift, with no thought given to the forces and balances that come into play even when there is no load on the hook with such a large crane. Thankfully no one lost their life in the incident.

The mind boggles


Good Afternoon Mr Craggy,

Thank you for your valuable input, the content of which is noted.

In English Law there is a principle known as 'Res Ipsa Loquitur' which means in Latin ' The Thing Speaks For Itself ' . So when a Mobile Crane goes over due to having No Ballast Blocks in place, or being Short Rigged on one side, it does not need a Judicial Enquiry to determine what was the Root Cause of that particular Incident, it is self evident to all who see it. For far too many years, Innocent Men have been getting killed on the Ground by Cranes, or during Unsafe Lifting Operations. Therefore, if no-one else will speak-up for the dead, it behoves me to speak-up for them ...and I will.

Your attempt to suppress legitimate public debate about Crane Safety is nothing but a disingenuous desire to do what certain politicians call " Kicking it into the Long Grass", knowing full well that by the time your lengthy official investigation into the unsafe act that triggered it off has been concluded, with a Report that is never Published for Commercial Reasons, that the crane incident itself is long forgotten. Therefor your time would be much better spent setting-up a Crane Safety Training Programme for all Directors and Managers in your Organisation. That way these Decision makers would then have an in-depth knowledge of the Common Law obligation known as 'Safe Systems of Work' . For the Record these are ....

1. Training, Instruction and Supervision are all Common Law obligations for UK Crane Industry Employers. Not Optional, but obligatory for all UK Employers.
2. The Crane Mfrs Excellent Handbook(s) already states all of the 'Safe Systems of Work' and should be followed by all Crane Owners 24/7.
3. In 2011 the HSE will confirm that 18 Men and Women were killed by Cranes or during Lifting Operations. With 49 Killed in the Construction Industry in total.

Should your Chief Executive disagree with my Strategy to drive-up Crane Safety Standards in the UK, then he has my full permission to petition the High Court to obtain a Court Order to stop me. Until then my Crane Safety Improvement Strategy continues. The reason being that we all go to work to earn money, not to be put at risk of being killed by a Negligent Crane Owner. After all if we dont improve Crane Safety in the UK, then who will ?

With Kindest Regards
Mike Ponsonby BA

May 28, 2013

I really do wish all the expert assumptions/advice/comments on what happened were left to the expert investigating people.

This is not the first time I have made such a comment in this forum and I do not suppose it will be the last. Facts should be known before others start judging.

May 28, 2013

Looks as thou they needed to have counterweights on as well as the outrigger pins installed.

Apr 15, 2013

Good Morning Mr Editor

The Grove GMK is an excellent Crane and perfectly Safe when Rigged in line with the procedures recommended in the Mfrs Handbook.

However, the Lack of Ballast Blocks in conjunction with Short Rigged Outriggers on the Jib side of this Machine makes this an 'Accident' ( Not a word I normally use, nor accept from anyone) just waiting for a Place to happen.

In the UK this Dangerous Incident would bring about a HSE Investigation and possibly prosecution, with a potential Manslaughter Charge in the event of a Fatality. As this was NO Accident due to it being entirely Foreseeable that this Crane would go over..
(See London Court of Appeal Judgement in the reported case of HSE. v. Tangerine Confectionery Ltd. [2012] CA re; Foreseeable)

The CEO of Babcock Corp should enquire into this Dangerous Lifting Operation, as this Lift was done in your name and on your delegated authority. Please let us know the outcome of your Report into this Dangerous Incident so that we can all learn lessons from it please ?

Kind Regards
Mike Ponsonby BA

Apr 10, 2013

Mark Krajci
Jibupdrive is right many times I see cranes operating without the use of the outrigger beam locking pins. It is not hard to use these and one can see the importance of these pins. Operators need to understand the importance of these pins and use them for every lift as well as in transport!

Apr 9, 2013

It's difficult to see what has actually happened from the photograph, but I'm not so sure about the void.

I might be wrong, but I think that the operator has failed to put the outrigger pins in. The crane has then been overloaded and as it has started to rise off of the back outriggers the lifting side outriggers have retracted; causing complete overturn.

When training operators and supervisors, I very often use examples such as this to emphasise the importance of using outrigger pins; particularly on two-stage outriggers.

Apr 9, 2013

No mats...? The LMI System to the right configuration....? The right man on the right place...?

Apr 8, 2013

Doing a quick job on the cheap just got expensive.

Apr 8, 2013