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Construction firms sentenced over crane collapse

Two construction firms have been sentenced after a crane collapsed onto a city centre apartment block in Liverpool, resulting in the crane driver being paralysed from the waist down.

The 79-metre-high tower crane was being used as part of a multi-million pound project to build a new eight-storey hotel and seven apartment blocks. The crane fell onto a partially constructed apartment block, across a road and came to rest on the apartments. Eight counterweights on the crane, weighing a total of 56 tonnes, broke free and crashed through the roof and six floors of the building.

Crane driver Iain Gillham fell from his cab onto the roof of the apartments and through the hole created by the counterweights.

He suffered multiple injuries including a brain haemorrhage, fractured skull, broken right shoulder, broken ribs, crush injuries to his left side, and major spinal injuries which resulted in his legs being paralysed.

The HSE investigation into the incident found that the crane’s foundation could not cope with the forces generated by the crane.

During the construction of the foundation, both construction firms agreed to cut away essential steel reinforcement bars from the four concrete foundation piles, so that the crane’s feet could sit on top on them. These were replaced with up to five steel rods in each pile. This action reduced the forces the foundation could withstand.

Summing up in court, Judge Gilmour said he was satisfied that it was the removal of the reinforcing steel and the inadequate replacement of the steel rods that led to the foundation being overloaded and the crane collapsing.

Over the past decade, nine people have been killed and there have been 25 serious injuries as a result of incidents involving tower cranes.