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Crane fault caused load to fall on worker

The injuries an HGV driver sustained when he was hit by a falling load of metal tubes have left him paraplegic.

David Collins, 31, suffered severe injuries to his head, back and leg in an incident at Festival Park, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, during the renovation of retail premises.

Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard that, on 7 November 2008, Mr Collins was unloading 21ft-long scaffolding tubes from the back of a truck using a vehicle-mounted crane.

He was standing under the load operating the crane controls, when one of the lifting slings broke free from the crane hook, causing the metal tubes, which weighed almost one and a half tonnes, to fall on him.

The HSE’s investigation into the incident revealed that Mr Collins’s employer, Spectra Scaffolding, had failed to give him proper training to carry out the task. The company further failed to supervise him and plan the work adequately.

The court also heard that a safety catch on the crane hook was faulty, which caused the scaffolding tubes to fall. Although the company had known about the defect for some time prior to the incident, it had failed to replace the catch, while Mr Collins’ lack of training meant that he did not realise its importance.

Commenting on the case, HSE inspector Lindsay Hope said: ‘Companies that operate lorry-mounted cranes must ensure their operators undertake appropriate, recognised training in all aspects. Operators of lorry-mounted cranes must be competent to use the equipment properly and plan safe lifting in variable site conditions.

‘In this instance, the lift wasn’t properly planned, or supervised and Mr Collins hadn’t been sufficiently trained in how to use the crane and slings properly. Furthermore, the equipment had not been properly maintained and should never have been used.’

Appearing in court on 9 January, Spectra Scaffolding, based in Bury, pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 8(1) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, for failing to ensure that the lifting operation was properly planned, supervised and carried out safely.

It also admitted a contravention of regulation 5(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, for failing to ensure that the crane was maintained in an efficient condition. It was fined a total of £40,000 and ordered to pay £45,000 costs.

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