Heavy Lift Specialist
Oct 312014

Good Morning Gentlemen,

A Crane Industry Sage said recently “ There are No New Crane Accidents, only the same (Crane) Accidents repeated time and time again by New ( Crane) People”.

So it is interesting to reflect that in the 365 days since we met at the Excellent World Crane Summit in Amsterdam, that there has been another 16 Fatal Crane Incidents adding yet another 28 Men and Women to that very long list of Crane Victims Killed during Lifting Operations (All of which is inherently dangerous as we are attempting to defeat Gravity) :

So as I have analysed these Crane Incidents 574 times before, further analysis reveals….

1. Cranes Killed 26 Men and 2 Women in the last 12 months since The World Crane Summit in Amsterdam on 28th October 2013.

2. Twenty Eight persons were Killed in Sixteen separate Fatal Incidents and as on so many previous occasions, all involved a myriad combination of Short Rigged or No Outriggers, No Mats, No Ballast or Not Enough and/or Overloading the LMI for that particular Boom Length /Radius.

All of which led to 16 Fatalities during 3 separate Man Basket Lifts with 8 Dropped Loads : The Majority of which were in the Western World.3. Machines involved in these Sixteen (16) Fatal Incidents were Eleven (11) Truck mounted or Crawler Cranes plus Five (5) Tower Cranes, including one spectacular example of Negligence when a Tower Crane fell over onto a Supermarket killing Two Women inside it.

The most recent Fatal Incident occurred only last Thursday 23rd October 2014 in Leipzig (RIP). Please let no-one describe these as ‘Accidents’ because an ‘Accident’ is only an ‘Accident’ if it is Accidental and to be Accidental, it must be not foreseeable, like Lightning. Yet many of these Fatal incidents were entirely Foreseeable for anyone who cared to look. There have been numerous examples of Negligent Crane Operations over the past 12 months, (Including one spectacular example in Scotland on 8/5/14) : 

However the worst example by far occurred in Brazil on 27th November 2013 when a Liebherr LR11350 Crawler Crane Rigged as Suspended Derrick Boom (SDB) and fitted with 102m Main Boom ( 334 foot Boom in USA), 42m Back Boom (135 foot in USA) and 990 tonnes of Counterweight ballast sitting on the Carbody and Superlift Tray to the Rear ( 1089 short Tons in USA) was overturned : This large crawler crane was Travelled forward with 420 tonnes on the Hook  ( 462 short Tons in USA) :  The Liebherr LR11350 Crane is an excellent machine and extremely safe with its exemplary LICCON control system, however even a safe crane can be overturned by the application of an Unsafe System of Work : Please allow me to explain…….

4. The gross weight of Crane, Ballast and Load was a mass of circa 2185 Tonnes. (circa 2403 short Tons in USA) : This applied a force of circa 39.02 Tonnes per Square Metre (Tm2) to the earth through the Two Tracks. This abnormally High imposed load of 39.02 Tm2 (circa 42 short Tons per square metre in USA) was not spread safely over a wider area by the Application of Steel or Hardwood Spreader Plate Mats under the Tracks.

All of which was necessary due to the unmade ground being unstable, due to Heavy Rain in the previous days. 5. So when this LR11350 Crawler Crane Travelled forward with 420 tonnes on the Hook, the ground subsided under the Tracks, the Machine then inclined out of vertical, causing massive overloading of Safety Critical Components such as the Boom Foot Pin Brackets etc : The entire Crane suffered a catastrophic collapse to the left, dropping the Load, Rigging and Boom(s) on Workers Nearby.6.

This Fatal Incident  killed Three (3) Men on the ground and wrecked this excellent crawler crane : Upon investigation by Liebherr it was found that the excellent LICCON Safety control system had been defective since 2012, with no Safe System of Work in use on 27th November 2013.  The two Crane Industry Trade Associations in the UK and EU are both publicly silent on these matters of great importance , so as no-one else will speak up for all these Dead Men and Women, I will.

ESTA President Christian Vernazza (d) recognised this ever-increasing problem and asked for a Crane Safety Code of Practice to be drafted at the ESTA Crane Conference in Edinburgh on Thursday Morning 13th October 2011 : Yet despite this, Safe Systems of Work  are still not applied by all Crane Owners 100% of the time : Therefore as ESTA is the Pre-eminent Crane Industry Trade Association in all 28 Members states of the European Union, ESTA now has a unique Opportunity to show Leadership on these matters of great importance :

We presently have the Safest Cranes ever made and the Mfrs Crane Safety Training Programmes are indeed the Best on the Planet, yet Still, Still we have potentially Fatal Crane Incidents reported on a Daily Basis : Why is this ?The Answer appears to be a Lack of Training, Instruction and Supervision. Particularly for Duty Holder Directors in calculating the Newtonian principles of Mass, Force and Gravity ?

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 is now a game-changer for all UK Crane Employers, particularly Section 1 which should be a wake-up call for Crane companies as it clearly states

1. (a) An organisation to which this section applies is guilty of an offence if the way in which its activities are managed or organised causes a person’s death       and         

(b) Amounts to a gross breach of a relevant Duty of Care owed by the organisation to (the) deceased.

One of the many memorable speeches from 28th October 2013 concluded with the words “Cranes cannot talk, but we can Listen”

So as the Ongoing Killing of Workers in the Workplace is not acceptable, that then prompts the reply, are we asking the correct questions ?Crane Safety can and should be Pro-Actively Managed, as it protects Employees, Assets and Profits ?  Worker Safety is my Core Value, please encourage the same in your organisation .With Kindest Regards to all.

Mike Ponsonby BA.

Comment of the Heavy Lift Specialist:

If every one is Safety Oriented and does not take any short cuts or risks, we hopefully can further improve Safety in the Construction Industry. See News item below:

UK fatalities continue to fall

October 29, 2014 | Comments (0)

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has released figures which show the number of people that sustained fatal injuries whilst at work in Britain has fallen for the second consecutive year.

The data reveals that 133 workers were fatally injured between March 2013 and April 2014, compared with 150 workers the previous year and 172 workers in 2011/12. The overall rate of fatal injury has now dropped to 0.44 per 100,000 workers, below the five-year average of 0.56.

HSE chairman Judith Hackitt said: “These latest figures remind us what health and safety is really about. We should remind ourselves what these numbers actually mean – the number of times in the last year someone went out to work and either did not return home to their loved ones.”

“Britain has one of the best health and safety systems in the world, but that is cold comfort to those who have suffered loss or suffering that is so easily avoided with sensible and proportionate risk management. We all need to commit to focussing on what really matters – ensuring more people return home from work every day and enjoy long and healthy working lives.”

The industry sectors in which employees are most likely to be injured has remained the same with construction accounting for 1,900 major injuries, agriculture 292 major injuries, manufacturing 3,159 major injuries and waste and recycling 486 major injuries.