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Crane goes down in Liverpool UPDATED

A luffing jib tower crane has collapsed onto a block of flats in Chandler's Wharf, Liverpool, UK, today, We understand that apart from the operator there are no injuries.
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The jib went over the back and pierced the roof

The crane, a Wolffkran 500B luffing jib model, rented from UK distributor HTC, was working on the site of some new canal side apartments and a hotel. The main contractor is Bowmer & Kirkland, which has now issued a detailed statement published below.
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The failure appears to be in the foundation or close to the base

The crane went over backwards from the base/foundation or close to the base, after two loud "bangs" were heard. The jib then went over the back of the crane and penetreated the far roof. We understand that residents in the apartments have all been safely evacuated and that there are no casualties.
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Substantial damage has been done to the building

The operator has been injured, although a statement, published below, says that he 'escaped' from the crane's cab, onto the roof, while local news reports say he was thrown. (Photographs- that we have not published, show the man, who was clearly concious, being helped into the platform of a fire ladder from the balcony below where the crane's counterweight frame came to rest) and was taken to hospital, where he was reported to be in stable condition.
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The cab appeared to be intact

The cranes five tonne counterweight blocks are reported to have broken free and punched through all fouor floors of the building to the basement.

The statement from Bowmer & Kirkland is published in full below:

"At 12.05pm this afternoon a crane located on the Kings Dock Mill site, Liverpool L1 was involved in an incident.

The site, where Bowmer & Kirkland Ltd is Principal Contractor, involves the construction of £28m hotel and apartment complex.

There are two Wolff tower cranes in use on the site. The Wolff 500B Luffing Jib Crane which was involved in the incident was undertaking a lifting operation well within its design capacity, when witnesses reported hearing two loud bangs, during which Tower Crane 2a was seen to bend and collapse on to the adjoining apartment building at Shaw’s Alley, L1.

The site invoked its emergency evacuation plan and all personnel were quickly accounted for, unharmed. The crane operator escaped from his cab on to the roof of the apartment building and was taken to hospital where treatment is ongoing. The fire and rescue service have undertaken a full search of the apartment block and no-one in the apartment building on Shaws Alley was injured.

An investigation is ongoing and Bowmer & Kirkland Ltd is co-operating fully with the authorities including the Health and Safety Executive, insurers and local agents regarding the re-housing of the affected local community whilst the apartments are secured during the repair and recovery operations. The on-site team is also working in conjunction with the Health and Safety Executive in terms of removing the crane from the site of the incident.

Bowmer & Kirkland Ltd operate tower cranes on their sites in accordance with the “Safe Crane Campaign” Codes of Practice. Tower Crane 2a was given a full safety audit following its erection on April 21st 2009.

As a precaution Tower Crane 1, a Wolff 7031 Saddle Jib, has been examined to ensure it remains in a safe condition and consequently has been given full clearance by the Health and Safety Executive. A team of investigators, including metallurgist engineers, foundation engineers and structural steel engineers, are currently undertaking detailed investigations, which are ongoing.

Vertikal Comment

While the odds are in favour of a foundation or foundation bolt failure as the cause of this accident. We were unable to see the base of the crane and so cannot shed any light on what specifically happened.

As soon as we learn more, particulaly if, as is usually the case, the information will help others, we will publish it in a seperate article.

It appears as if the safety procedures that are supposed to 'click in' when such an accident occurs worked like clockwork in this case. No matter what precautions you take, accidents can still happen, the key is that when they do everyone knows what they are supposed to do and do it without drama.

This accident may well prove to be a good case study of good practice when an accident occurs?