Southwark Crown Court has sentenced Falcon Crane Hire over two deaths in London in 2006

construction useful

Falcon Crane Hire has been fined £750,000 over failings that led to the deaths of two men in the 2006 Batterrsea crane disaster.

Southwark Crown Court heard crane operator Jonathan Cloke, 37, died after falling from the crane as it collapsed and that Michael Alexa, 23, a member of the public, died after the crane fell on him.

Sections of the tower crane, being used on a housing development in Thessaly Road, Battersea, separated when 24 bolts failed due to metal fatigue.

The 24 bolts were a significant safety feature on the crane’s slew ring, which connected the mast (tower) to the slew turret and allowed the jib of the crane to rotate 360 degrees. When the bolts failed the slew turret and jib separated from the mast and fell to the ground.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the incident, in September 2006, found Falcon Crane Hire Ltd did not investigate a similar incident which happened nine weeks before, when the bolts failed on the same crane and had to be replaced.

The company was found to have an inadequate system to manage the inspection and maintenance of their fleet of cranes by the HSE, as well as an inadequate process to investigate the cause of the failing components.

Lilliana Alexa, Michael’s mother, said on behalf of her family: “Michael was a lovely son, a wonderful big brother and a devoted father. His son has had to grow up without the love and support of Michael, who adored him. He was denied that opportunity because his life was taken away and with his, ours too.

“The memories of that day will never leave our family. We heard the crash and felt the ground shake. I found Michael and it’s an image that haunts my nightmares. If only we had stopped to chat or parked the car somewhere else he would still be alive. We know we are not to blame but it does not stop us all feeling guilt.

“We cannot comprehend how our beloved son, brother, father and friend who was so full of live has gone. The whole crane industry must learn from our tragedy and the devastation it has caused. We do not want another family to endure the same pain of losing their child.”

Mike Wilcock, HSE Head of Operations, said:“Jonathan and Michael’s deaths were tragic, needless and entirely avoidable. These two men need not have died had Falcon Crane Hire taken the right, decisive action when the bolts failed the first time. The company fell far short of its health and safety obligation.”

Falcon Crane Hire was also ordered to pay costs of £100,000 as well as the £750,000 fine for breaching Sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act.

Falcon Crane Hire said in a statement: “Falcon Crane Hire Ltd would like to express thier sincere condolences to the families and friends of Mr Cloke and Mr Alexa who died tragically in the crane accident in Battersea in September 2006.

“The company regards health and safety as being of paramount importance in its operations and it has taken every step to ensure that procedures adopted in the pursuance of its operations are conducted as safely and efficiently as possible.

“Falcon has, throughout this very long investigation, co-operated fully with all authoirities and has been determined to understand fully the causes of this tragic accident and learn all safety lessons.

“Following the incident, the company has examined all its procedures. Where lessons could be learnt, they have been, where different methods of work could be used, they have been implemented and where higher level of skills could be attained, the ncessary training has been given.”