Two UK contractors, Bowmer & Kirkland and Bingham Davis have been found guilty of breaching health and safety laws following the collapse of a tower crane in Liverpool in 2009. They will be sentenced on Friday.
The crane went over a apartment block at Chandlers Wharf and threw the operator, Iain Gillham, 55, from his cab. His injuries included a brain haemorrhage, fractured skull, spine fractures and a broken shoulder and he is now confined to a wheelchair.
During construction of the crane’s foundation the defendants agreed to cut away steel reinforcing bars from four concrete foundation piles to allow the cranes base to rest on the piles and replaced the rebar with steel rods. The judge said he was satisfied that removal of the reinforcing steel and replacement with steel rods resulted in the foundation being unable to cope with the forces imposed by the crane. This led to the foundation being overloaded and the crane collapsing.
The HSE investigating inspector Warren Pennington said: “HSE hopes this case sends a clear message to the construction industry in relation to tower cranes foundations. Designers of such should be familiar with industry accepted guidance and follow it, unless they have extremely well thought-out reasons for not doing so. The role of the Principal Contractor is also crucial in managing the design process. Both Principal Contractors and Designers should ensure that robust systems for design checking are actioned at all times.”
Main contractor Bowmer and Kirkland has been fined £280,000 and ordered to pay almost £200,000 in costs, while Liverpool based structural engineer
Bingham Davis was fined a nominal £1,000 as it is now in liquidation. It would have otherwise faced a £400,000.