Companies and manger chose “cheaper repair” for damaged MEWP boom

The 57 year-old manager of an access plant hire firm has been sentenced to two years imprisonment (6 January 2017) for his neglect of health and safety obligations that led to the death of one man and caused serious injury to another in June 2012.

Donald Craig was found guilty of a breach of health and safety legislation and sentenced to the maximum penalty of two years imprisonment after a 16 day trial at Airdrie Sheriff Court.

Defective boom buckled

Gary Currie, a safety net rigger, and Alexander Nisbet, the MEWP operator were in the basket of mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) removing safety netting from the facade of an office block in Glasgow.

The third main boom section of the MEWP buckled causing the basket to fall 28m to the ground, with the result that Alexander Nisbet was seriously injured and Gary Currie suffered fatal injuries. In addition to the above case the following companies were also prosecuted:

  • Craig Services & Access Limited – was found guilty of three charges relating to the collapse of a mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) and failures in relation to maintenance and use. The form was fined a total of £61,000.
  • J M Access Solutions Ltd – was fined £30,000 for failing to carry out a systematic and detailed thorough examination of the platform and its safety-critical parts.

After an incident involving the platform in May 201 Craig Services & Access Limited instructed a repair to the damaged section of the main boom.

The repair had been incorrectly carried out and J M Access Solutions Ltd subsequently failed in their duty to carry out an adequate thorough examination of the platform.

Manufacturer advised boom replacement

After the sentencing HSE Principal Inspector Graeme McMinn stated:

“The death of Gary Currie was entirely preventable. Craig Services and Access Ltd and Donald Craig were advised by the manufacturer to replace the damaged boom. Instead, they chose a much cheaper repair that left the boom in an unsafe condition. Guidance in the British Standard “Safe Use of MEWPS” advises that repairs to any parts of the MEWP structure should be in accordance with the procedure specified by the manufacturer.

At the time of the accident the MEWP had a catalogue of defects some of which were safety critical demonstrating that Craig Services and Access Ltd did not have an adequate proactive maintenance and reactive repair system in place within the company. For a complex piece of equipment such as the MEWP, that system should have included daily pre-use checks, intermediate inspections and maintenance based on manufacturer recommendations and six monthly thorough examinations carried out by a competent person independent of the MEWP owner.

The competence and diligence of a thorough examiner is vital as it is they who declare the MEWP safe to use. JM Access Solutions Ltd failed to carry out a diligent thorough examination and declared the MEWP safe to use. The British Standard provides guidance on what an examination should include following a major repair on a MEWP structure. Non-destructive testing and load testing should have been carried out and overload testing discussed with the manufacturer.

This tragic accident should highlight the absolute duty for owners of MEWPS to maintain them to ensure continued safe operation.”

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By Ubong Edet

A passionate Health and Safety professional with a good level of field experience and relevant certifications including NEBOSH, OSHA, ISO, etc certifications. An Health and Safety activist who believes in the growth and continual improvement of the profession. He is going all out to create awareness and safe precious lives.

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