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Crane Crush Death 'Accidental'

Accidental Construction Death


An inquest has ruled that the death of a construction worker who was crushed when a crane toppled over on a building site was accidental.

Zbigniew Swirzynski, 35, was struck by a 2.4-ton concrete counterweight which fell from the crane at the site in Seel Street, Liverpool. Other parts of the crane were catapulted over a line of terrace houses, landing in the street and smashing into cars parked next to the site.

HSE inspector Geoff Frackelton told the inquest jury at Liverpool Coroner's Court that the crane had crashed down "very violently."

"As it did it turned over and struck a partially constructed lift tower. It turned upside down and landed on a building," he added.

Mr Frackelton said the investigation had shown that a brief "gust" of wind of around 82 kilometres an hour had blown the jib - the arm of the crane - upwards without setting off alarms in the crane's cab. The alarm checks the wind speed every three seconds and had been set to sound a warning when speeds reached more than 50 kilometres an hour.

The coroner said Mr Swirzynski died of multiple injuries and the jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

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David Urpeth from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "This was a terrible and violent death arising from an accident at work. Systems of work should be in place to ensure workers are not injured or killed by falling objects.

"Many people mistakenly believe an "accidental death" verdict in a corners court means that no one was a fault for the death. This is not necessarily the case.

"A coroners courts function is not to apportion blame, although that may of course be a matter for a civil court. As such, the coroners or juries verdict will often be drafted in a way that avoids criticism. The inquest will simply answer who the deceased was, when where and in what circumstances they died.

"In many cases, I have successfully pursued claims for damages following fatal industrial accidents in cases where an accidental death verdict was delivered.

"Anyone who is injured or killed in an accident at work should seek legal advice as soon as possible as to whether there are grounds to pursue a claim for compensation."