In September 2006 a crane operator, Jonathan Cloke, 37, died after falling from a crane as it collapsed on a site in London. Part of the crane fell on to a member of the public, Michael Alexa, 23, causing fatal injuries.

Southwark Crown Court heard how sections of the crane, being operated on a housing development in Battersea, separated when 24 bolts failed due to metal fatigue. The bolts connected the mast to the slew turret allowing the crane jib to rotate through 360 degrees. When the bolts failed, the slew turret and jib separated from the mast and fell to the ground.

The HSE found that Falcon Crane Hire failed to investigate a similar incident that happened nine weeks before the incident, when the bolts had failed on the same crane requiring replacement.

The HSE found that the company had an inadequate system to manage the inspection and maintenance of their fleet of cranes. Their process to investigate the underlying cause of components’ failings was also lacking.

Mike Wilcock, HSE Head of Operations, commenting on the failure to take appropriate and decisive action after the bolts had failed the first time, said “the company fell far short of its health and safety obligation.”

Falcon Crane Hire Ltd was fined £750,000, for breaching Sections 2 and 3 HSWA 1974. This included a 25% discount for the guilty pleas. The company was further ordered to pay costs of  £100,000.