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Qualification on the way for crane erectors after inquest

NEWS

A NEW qualification for tower crane and hoist erectors is due to be introduced following last week's inquest into the collapse of a tower crane in Worthing that killed two men.

The inquest into the tragedy in February 2005 heard the men dismantling the crane had no formal training.

Stephen Boatman, 45, and Gary Miles, 37, died as they attempted to derig a 60 m high crane that was being dismantled at an £11 million Willmott Dixon site. A third man, David Smith, was seriously injured.

Currently no formal qualification exists for tower crane erecting. Plans for a Plant Installers NVQ for tower crane and hoist erectors have been drawn up by the Construction Plant Hire Association.

The inquest heard how bolts had been loosened in preparation for the crane to be dismantled the next day. At the inquest the HSE confirmed that it was likely these bolts were loose prior to collapse and failed when the crane was 'slewed and came under tension'.

The dead men were working for Gloucestershire-based subcontractor W D Bennetts Plant & Services as tower erectors and dismantlers. Mr Smith was working as a crane driver during the week and helped with dismantling at the weekends.

Bennetts managing director Edward Seager said: 'As part of the preparatory work the nuts on the tower crane bolts that hold the tower sections of the crane together were supposed to be de-torqued as per the manufacturer's manual.

Unfortunately on this occasion the correct procedures as set out in the manufacturer's manual were not followed.

'The men had no formal qualification but all had appropriate, experienced-based training. Stephen Boatman and Gary Miles were our most experienced men on site and had done this work hundreds of times before.'

The HSE investigation is ongoing and will include reviewing evidence from the coroner's inquest, which recorded a verdict of accidental death.