Accident in Gillingham Demonstrates Importance of Having Lift Supervisor

Working with a crane can be very dangerous and there are many very important health and safety procedures which should be followed. Before the work can be carried out, it is necessary to agree whether it is the lift contractor or the client who is responsible for the planning of the lifting operations. If neither takes responsibility but assumes that the other party is taking care of all health and safety concerns, this is a recipe for disaster.

That is what happened recently in Gillingham according to the UK Health and Safety Executive, when a miscommunication between two companies led to an enormous 80ft mobile crane falling over. The accident occurred at a building site which was located on Fernbrook Road in August of 2009, during the construction of a new nursing home. The crane narrowly missed some employees on the ground as well as a busy road.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, the crane used for the project should have been larger and there should have been protective ground mats used in order to spread out the weight of the crane to stabilise it in the infirm ground conditions. The problem arose when it was unclear whether the crane hire was set up simply to include the equipment only or whether it included the planning of the lift operation. This lead to both firms assuming that the other one had the safe operation of the lift planned, when really this vital role was not being fulfilled. This led to the important information about the ground conditions and the weight of the crane, not being passed on to the workers involved.

One of the companies involved, South Coast Crane Hire, has pleaded guilty to breaching the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations and was fined £10,000 as well as £14,917 in costs. The other company that was involved was fined £16,000 as well as an equal amount in costs to the other company. This incident was not only costly in damage; it also could have very easily been fatal to workers or passer-by. It demonstrates the importance of health and safety procedures such as appointing someone as a lift supervisor to ensure the proper procedures are followed.

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