Manufacturers Warned About Overhead Crane Safety

Firm Fined £160,000 After Worker Dies In Crane Incident

27.11.2013

Manufacturers have been urged to ensure their overhead cranes are safe and fit for purpose.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued the warning after an engineering firm was fined £160,000 for its role in a fatal accident in March 2011.

Assystem UK of Bamber Bridge was also ordered to pay £52,500 in prosecution costs during a hearing at Preston Crown Court.

The penalty was handed out in relation to an incident that saw 51-year-old Liam O'Neill crushed to death by an overhead crane at a factory in Preston.

He had been using a platform - which had originally been installed for a specific project in 2000 - to repair a control cable on the crane.

An investigation by the HSE found the clearance gap between the crane and the guardrails that surrounded the ladder and platform was just 8.5cm, and end stops had been installed to ensure the machine could not pass over the tower.

However, these buffers had been removed before the accident occurred and the company had failed to identify the risk of workers being crushed by the crane as they worked on the platform.

HSE inspector Stuart Kitchingman said: "Liam tragically lost his life because his employer didn't think about the potential consequences of having a working platform in the path of an overhead crane.

"It would have been simple to put a system in place to make sure power to the crane was switched off before anyone climbed onto the platform, or to put up a barrier to prevent access to the platform."

Manufacturing factories and plants are renowned for being among the most dangerous places to work in the UK. HSE figures showed that 20 people lost their lives while working in this particular sector in 2012-13.

Over the past five years, an average of 31 manufacturing workers have been killed in occupational accidents annually in the UK, while more than 4,500 employees have also sustained serious injuries over the same period.