A specialist heavy lifting company has been fined after two men fell from height during the assembly of a crane.

On January 19, 2021, two employees of Osprey Heavy Lift Limited fell as a result of a partial collapse of a platform on a crane at the Port of Blyth, Northumberland.

One of the workers sustained "serious injuries" from the fall - including fractures to his ribs, wrist, and eye socket, even though he was wearing safety equipment. 

Now, Osprey Heavy Lift Limited has been fined £24,000, and ordered to pay additional costs of £9,136 after pleading guilty to health and safety offences. 

The platform was being installed using four lifting chains, each of which with a hook and safety clasp, when it collapsed. The hooks were looped over metal lugs on the platform in order to lift it into position.

The workers removed the two lifting chains nearest the crane structure and moved along the platform to attach the other side to the crane pendants.

At this point, the two remaining lifting chains came off the lugs and one side of the platform fell to the ground.

Despite both men using safety equipment, they both fell from the platform.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Osprey Heavy Lift Limited failed to properly plan the lift, meaning unsuitable lifting accessories were used.

Suitable anchor points for workers using fall arrest equipment were not identified and there was no consideration of fall distances. 

Additionally, the company failed to provide appropriate instructions and information for work at height and lifting operations.

HSE has guidance on working at height and lifting operations.

At South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court on November 7, Osprey Heavy Lift Ltd of Portishead, Bristol, Somerset pleaded guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company was fined £24,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9,136.

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After the hearing, HSE inspector, Clare Maltby said: “Companies who undertake crane assembly work must properly plan lifting activities and work at height, making certain the equipment selected is suitable for the task.

“All organisations undertaking lifting and work at height must ensure work is properly planned, and the correct equipment is selected. Workers should be provided with adequate health and safety information and instructions.”

This HSE prosecution was supported by HSE lawyer Samantha Wells.