Convicted British Firm to Pay $388,000 in Crushing Fatality

The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted a crane supply company and one of its supervisors after a 3,000-pound steel beam fell and killed Colin Dickson, 38, in August 2007.

A crane supply company has been fined £180,000 and ordered to pay costs of £74,000 -- the total is approximately $388,000 in U.S. dollars -- after pleading guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 in connection with a fatality. Colin Dickson, 38, died on Aug. 29, 2007, when a suspended 3,000-pound steel beam fell about 15 feet and struck him. The death occurred at an incinerator in Slough, Berkshire.

The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted his employer, J H Carruthers Ltd, and one of its supervisors, John Hamilton, after investigating how the temporary suspension points on the beam failed during the lifting operation. The agency said Dickson suffered fatal injuries to his chest and fractures to his legs and back.

According to HSE, a team of five people were installing two cranes in the hall of a new incinerator building and were lifting two steel beams to a height of approximately 18 meters, which were then to be welded to the underside of roof beams that were fixed to the rafters. The investigation concluded the lift could have succeeded if it had been planned, appropriately supervised, and carried out in a safe manner from the outset.

"This tragic incident show the importance of carrying out a thorough assessment of hazards and properly managing all lifting operations," said Inspector Karen Morris. "This was a complex and unusual lift which went drastically wrong due to a lack of competent planning and a failure to supervise and carry out the task safely. The risks involved in such lifting operations should not be underestimated. Health and safety law places stringent requirements on employers in these circumstances, for very good reason. This incident was entirely preventable and it should act as a reminder to others that standards need to be maintained to ensure the safety of workers at all times."

Hamilton pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 8(1) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998. He was fined £1,500 -- about $2,300 in U.S. dollars -- and ordered to pay costs of £400.

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