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Hunt for crane expert

Health and Safety Executive launches worldwide search for crane expert to look at Worthing collapse

THE HEALTH and Safety Executive launched a worldwide search for a crane expert this week as the technical investigation gets under way into last month's crane collapse in Worthing.

The hunt will span the UK and overseas and an expert is set to be appointed in the next few weeks because an independent witness will be required if the HSE's investigation results in a prosecution.

Bringing in an outside expert mirror's the investigation of the crane collapse in Canary Wharf in May 2000 where three construction workers were killed when the top of a 150-tonne self-climbing tower crane came down during what should have been a routine jacking operation.

A crane specialist was brought in from the USA at the start of the technical investigation when the Canary Wharf crane was taken to the Health and Safety Laboratory for examination.The probe is still ongoing over five years later but it is almost complete.

The HSE has admitted it may never discover the exact cause of the Canary Wharf tragedy.

Chief inspector of construction Kevin Myers said: 'It is our responsibility to ensure no stone is left unturned. But there is a possibility we will not be able to say exactly what happened on that day.'

Witnesses to the Worthing collapse said that more workers would have been crushed had they not been on a tea break.

Two men were killed and another seriously injured as they attempted to derig a 60 m-high crane.The 40 m-long jib they were working on collapsed into a second crane and on to the roof of a building under construction.

The dead men were Gary Miles, 37, and Steven Boatman, 45, both from Reading, who were working for subcontractor W D Bennetts & Plant Services, based in Gloucestershire.

The site, where an £11 million special needs school is being built next to the existing Durrington High School, is run by Willmott Dixon.