Boatyard Fined After Crane Accident

An Isle of Wight boatyard business has been fined for safety failings after a poorly maintained mobile crane overturned during a lifting operation at Yarmouth Harbour.

No-one was hurt in the incident at Harold Hayles Ltd on 1 November 2011, but a car was badly damaged by the jib of the 35-tonne machine.

Isle of Wight Magistrates Court heard that the crane was being used to lift a yacht when the controls locked up.

The driver retracted stabilising outriggers in order to physically move and free the controls. Although this worked, the crane overbalanced and toppled because the jib was still extended. 

Crushed car

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the controls were prone to locking up and the crane was overdue an annual test.

All lifting equipment is required by law to undergo a thorough yearly examination, but the crane had missed its latest annual test three weeks before the accident because of a mechanical failure when an engineer visited the boatyard.

HSE also found that Harold Hayles Limited failed to provide a suitable lifting plan for the yacht operation, another essential safety requirement.  

Magistrates were told the company had failed to heed a previous warning from HSE in February 2009 after concerns were raised about the planning of lifting operations following a routine inspection.

Harold Hayles (Yarmouth I.W.) Limited, of The Quay, Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, was fined a total of £4,000 and ordered to pay £4,000 in costs after pleading guilty two breaches of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 and single breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

After the hearing HSE Inspector John Caboche said:

''This was a serious incident that could have ended in tragedy had the crane toppled onto a person and not an empty car.

It was wholly preventable and could have been avoided had the crane been better maintained and had the lifting operation been better planned and managed.

It is essential that all lifting equipment is in good working condition and that work is carefully assessed by competent personnel, with a lift plan in place and communicated to everyone involved in the work.

Harold Hayles was fully aware of the dangers and HSE publishes extensive guidance that is readily-available of how to safely manage this type of work.''