Crane Death Costs UK Steel Company $237,000

A West Midlands steel company has been ordered to pay that amount after one of its employees was crushed to death by a 15-tonne crane.

The May 27, 2011, death of Wilfred Williams, 57, in Dudley, England, when he was crushed by a crane while doing maintenance on an overhead traveling crane at C Brown & Sons (Steel) Ltd, has cost his employer more than $237,000 in fines and court costs, the Health and Safety Executive announced.

He was working about 40 feet above the ground and stepped from the gantry he was working on to the rail of an adjacent crane and sat down, according to the agency. "At this point, the neighboring crane was moved by an operator who had not seen Mr Williams, and he was crushed against an upright stanchion. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Mr. Williams and a fellow maintenance worker had accessed the cranes via a cherry picker. The second worker remained in the basket while Mr. Williams stepped onto the rail of the crane he was fixing. He wasn't wearing a harness, there was no other fall protection, and there was no safe system of work at height to prevent crush injuries or falls," according to its news release.

C Brown & Sons (Steel) Ltd Was fined £120,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was ordered to pay £26,552 in costs. HSE inspector Angela Gallagher said, "This tragic incident, which has had a devastating effect on Mr. Williams' family, was entirely preventable. The requirement to prohibit cranes from approaching within six meters of any person working on or near the wheel tracks of the crane stretches back to the Factories Act 1961, yet the company failed to put in place sufficient measures to address this risk. Documents show the company had been aware of the risks for some time. A system to prevent falls from height -- a line system whereby workers wearing a harness could clip onto the line -- was being considered and an order was about to be placed at the time of the incident. However, the company had not put interim measures in place to prevent falls nor adequately assessed the risk of maintenance staff being crushed by moving cranes. The risks of working at height, especially around cranes, are very real, and companies must have safe work procedures in place and train employees to use them. They must also have appropriate management systems in place to ensure they are followed."

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