The Health and Safety Executive has prosecuted two construction firms following a major accident at work in which a crane collapsed onto an apartment block in the centre of Liverpool.
The incident resulted in crane driver, Iain Gillham, being paralysed from the waist down along with several other major injuries.
The high tower crane, which stood 79 metres high, was part of a multi million pound project at Kings Dock Mill on Tabley Street, to build a brand new 8 storey hotel and a further 7 apartment blocks.
On 6 July 2009, the crane fell onto a partially built apartment block, across a road and came to rest on the Chandler’s Wharf apartment building. As many as 8 counterweights responsible for balancing the crane, and weighing a total of 56 tonnes, broke free and crashed through the roof of the building and down through 6 floors.
Mr Gillham, from Woolton, fell from his cab and down onto the apartment, falling through the hole created by the counterweights.
As Liverpool Crown Court heard details of the incident, they were also informed that Mr Gillham has suffered a number of serious injuries including a brain haemorrhage, fractured skull, broke right shoulder, broken ribs, crush injuries to his left side and major spinal injuries from which he had lost the use of his legs.
While nobody else had been injured in the disaster, the residents of 64 apartments had to be evacuated from their homes and some were rescued from their balconies. They were unable to return to their homes for two years while major reconstruction work took place.
Bowmer and Kirkland Ltd and Bingham Daves Ltd were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive after an investigation found that the crane’s foundation could not cope with the force generated by the crane.
The accidents at work had been the result of both companies agreeing to cut away essential steel reinforcement bars from the four concrete foundation piles, allowing the crane’s feet to sit on top of them.
Both companies were found guilty of breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court by failing to ensure the safety of workers or residents.