Crane Accidents

Laings Fined After Fall Kills Workers

05/26/95

United Kingdom

A construction worker from Radlett plunged to his death after an unstable crane toppled over, a court heard on Friday.

Anthony Fear, 38, was thrown five storeys to the ground when the work platform he was dismantling came away from the building.

Inadequate safety procedures left the platform dangerously unstable after it was adjusted two weeks earlier, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Mr Fear was pronounced dead at the scene despite being given mouth to mouth resuscitation by colleagues.

His 58-year-old colleague Roy Anderson, from Cuffley, also fell from the platform attached to a major London building development and suffered fatal injuries on May 26, 1995.

On Friday their employers John Laing Services Ltd were fined £175,000 after pleading guilty to failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety Act.

The company admitted that, contrary to safety rules, no stabilisers were used at the platform’s base after it was converted from a twin to a single tower unit.

Prosecuting, Richard Matthews said a work colleague close to the crane saw Mr Anderson move from the centre to the edge of the platform.

“To his horror he saw the mast begin to move. The whole structure simply toppled away from the building. There was nothing to stabilise it laterally.

“Safety appraisals should have been carried out and the company fell significantly short of what was reasonably practicable,” Mr Matthews told the court.

An inquest in December 1995 gave a verdict of unlawful killing of both men after the accident at Albert Embankment.

Imposing the fine, Judge George Bathurst-Norman said: “This is a tragic case where, to my mind, a considerable number of opportunities were missed to ensure the safety of the design.”

Defending, Gregory Treverton-Jones QC said: “A simple mistake was made on site and the tragic result was two fine men lost their lives. They were valued employees.

Reacting to the judge’s decision outside court, Mr Fear’s brother Ian said he was satisfied that justice had been done: “The company were at fault but today at long last after nine years there is a sense of closure to this whole awful tragedy.

“It has been a complete and total nightmare, I can now put this behind me and get on with the rest of my life”.

Mr Anderson’s widow Linda said: “Both families have been devastated. Something within us will always be missing”.

Category: Accident Report, In Memory of

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