Health and Safety Breach Led to Construction Worker’s Death

Richard Mark Thornton, a construction worker from Longridge near Preston was crushed to death by a crane that overturned at a warehouse in Liverpool on the 29th March 2007. Mr Thornton was constructing a new floor in the warehouse at the time of the accident.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted both his employer, Siteweld Construction Ltd, and the managing director Benjamin Lee. The HSE held them both responsible for not making sure the work was planned and carried out safely.

“If the work had been properly planned, and the crane had been properly maintained, then Mr Thornton would still be alive today. It is vital construction companies learn from this case to prevent similar deaths in the future.”

It was found by the HSE that the crane had not been adequately maintained and other workers nearby could not hear the alarm system. The override switch and the switch that stopped the crane from lifting loads beyond its maximum weight were also found to be faulty.

“It is tragic that Mr Thornton died because a series of health and safety warnings and procedures were ignored. The crane was simply not capable of lifting the steel column, when it was nearly 18 metres away, without it being overloaded.”

Managing director Benjamin Lee was fined £80,000 and had to pay £18,478 in prosecution costs. He also admitted that he was guilty of breaching Regulation 8(1) of the 1998 Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment regulations.

Siteweld Construction Ltd also admitted their guilt to the same health and safety offence. The company received a fine of £50. However, as they had ceased trading, there were no costs.