HSE decides not to prosecute over Liverpool crane fatality

The Health and Safety Executive will not pursue a prosecution following the death of a Polish worker after a 120ft crane collapsed on a Liverpool construction site on 15 January 2007.

Following an investigation by Merseyside Police and HSE, assisted by the Health and Safety Laboratory, HSE said it concluded that there was insufficient evidence to bring proceedings against any of the parties investigated. These included the crane manufacturer; the crane hirer; the principal contractor running the site; the sub-contractor using the crane at the time of the incident; and the crane driver.

The crane, in use at residential scheme Elysian Fields in the Ropewalks area of the city centre, collapsed when the slew ring bolts failed and the slew ring fractured, allowing the main crane assembly to fall from its tower and land upside down on top of the building being constructed. Zbigniew Swirzynski, a Polish site worker, was killed and the crane driver was injured.

Mike Cross, HSE head of operations for construction in the North West, said: "This decision was reached after a lengthy and exhaustive investigation into the causes of the collapse which involved interviews with numerous witnesses and the extensive involvement of HSE and HSL specialists. No effort was spared in determining the cause of this tragic incident, which involved visits to the crane manufacturers in Spain and full engagement with the tower crane community in GB. We have already contacted Mr Swirzynski's family to let them know our decision."

Cross continued: "As a result of this investigation HSE has written to all tower crane hirers and suppliers in GB providing them with HSE's technical conclusions as to the cause of the incident. We have asked them to consider what, if anything, they need to do in the light of these findings. The companies have been asked to consult with tower crane manufacturers (none of which are GB-based) as necessary to inform their considerations and communicate the message to the users of their cranes. HSE is monitoring their responses and stands ready to take any necessary follow-up action.

"We are also engaging with a number of other key stakeholders including the Strategic Forum for Construction and the Crane Plant Hire Association and with European colleagues to ensure that lessons learnt from this incident are acted upon."

Contractor David McLean was building the apartments in Colquitt Street, off Seel Street for developer Iliad. The site was closed for six months after the fatal accident. The Health & Safety Executive did not pursue McLean or Iliad over the death and both said all the proper safety systems were in place.

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