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13.05.2012

Tower crane sentence tops £480k

The sentences for the 2009 tower crane collapse in Liverpool, UK, have been handed down and total around £480,000.

Main contractor Bowmer and Kirkland was 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. Click here to see Contractors found guilty

The investigating HSE inspector Warren Pennington said: "Serious failings on the parts of both Bowmer and Kirkland Ltd and Bingham Davis Ltd were uncovered by the Health and Safety Executive during an extensive and complex investigation into the crane collapse. Whilst it is bad enough that Iain Gillham will be unable to walk for the rest of his life as a result of the failings of both parties, it is no exaggeration to say it was only by pure chance that this catastrophic event did not result in multiple fatalities and significantly more damage to property.”

"The circumstances leading to the collapse were a mess. Bingham Davis employees had no previous experience of designing the type of crane foundation used at Kings Dock Mill. Likewise, Bowmer & Kirkland's employees at Kings Dock Mill had no experience of building one. Both parties made disastrous errors that were entirely preventable.”

"The original error was made by Bingham Davis Ltd, which failed to spot a basic mistake in its calculations for the loadings imposed by the crane. This created a material risk which had the potential to have led to a crane foundation being constructed that was not strong enough to hold the crane up.”

"During construction of the foundation, Bingham Davis advised Bowmer and Kirkland to cut away essential steel reinforcing bars in the foundation piles and replace such with steel rods. The removal of such reinforcing steel, resulted in the foundation being too weak to support the crane. The foundation was further weakened when Bowmer and Kirkland failed to ensure the adequate insertion of the replacing steel rods.”

"Neither Company did enough to check what the result would be of cutting away this essential steel reinforcement and replacing such with steel rods."

"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. We will continue to engage with the industry to ensure that lessons are learned."

Comments

Dave C
As the lift supervisor on the contract lift to recover the ballast from the basement of the building the crane fell on to I had first hand access to the accident site and must say that how Mr Gillham survived at all is incredible , now that once again the finger pointing has hopefully come to a end ???? the operator must not just be forgotten , incompetent designers etc must be held accountable . they are not the ones left in a wheelchair ..... Good Luck Ian

May 19, 2012
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