Fatal Crane Collapse Brings $1 Million Fine in Britain

The tower crane was in use on a housing development in Thessaly Road, Battersea, and its sections separated when 24 bolts failed due to metal fatigue.

A British national crane company has been fined £750,000 -- equivalent to $1 million in U.S. dollars -- and ordered to pay costs of £100,000 for breaching Sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act. following two deaths in a tower crane collapse in London, the Health & Safety Executive reported this week. The company faced prosecution after crane operator Jonathan Cloke, 37, died after falling from the crane as it collapsed and fell onto Michael Alexa, 23, a member of the public who also died. The crane was in use on a housing development in Thessaly Road, Battersea, and its sections separated when 24 bolts failed due to metal fatigue.

These bolts were a significant safety feature on the crane's slew ring, which connected the mast (tower) to the slew turret and allowed the arms of the crane to rotate through 360 degrees. When the bolts failed, the slew turret and jib separated from the mast and fell. HSE said the incident occurred in September 2006, and that it found Falcon Crane Hire Ltd did not investigate a similar incident that happened nine weeks before, when the bolts failed on the same crane and had to be replaced.

According to the agency, its investigation found the company had an inadequate system to manage the inspection and maintenance of its cranes and its process to investigate the underlying cause of component failures was inadequate.

"Michael was a lovely son, a wonderful big brother and a devoted father. His son has had to grow up without the love and support of Michael, who adored him. He was denied that opportunity because his life was taken away and with his, ours, too," said Lilliana Alexa, the mother of Michael Alexa. "The memories of that day will never leave our family. We heard the crash and felt the ground shake. I found Michael and it's an image that haunts my nightmares. If only we had stopped to chat or parked the car somewhere else he would still be alive. We know we are not to blame, but it does not stop us all feeling guilt. We cannot comprehend how our beloved son, brother, father and friend who was so full of live has gone. The whole crane industry must learn from our tragedy and the devastation it has caused. We do not want another family to endure the same pain of losing their child."

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