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Yet again the HSE bungles a collapse


THE WALL of silence in the aftermath of the Battersea crane collapse is a disgrace that shames the companies and authorities involved.

The accident claimed the lives of the driver and a local resident.

Yet in the days after the disaster the Health and Safety Executive and the crane hire company involved did nothing to reassure the industry that there will be no repeat of the tragedy.

The HSE is a frequent target following major incidents and yet again they have bungled their handling of a case.

Officials from the executive only managed to confirm the exact make of the crane on Tuesday - six days after the collapse.

That meant drivers were forced to work for nearly a week without knowing which machines were at risk.

The delay is symptomatic of an organisation paralysed by bureaucracy.

Front line inspectors do a great job trying to keep construction safe.

But there are too few of them and too many policy-makers and pen-pushers preventing advice getting out into the industry.

We are not asking for a full explanation of how an accident happened within days - just interim reassurance over who is at risk and what safety checks are being carried out.

History shows that the HSE takes years to investigate crane failures.

And that is giving companies like Falcon Hire a convenient cloak to hide behind.

Refusing to make any comment following a double death caused by one of your cranes is not acceptable in the modern construction industry.

People on site need reassurances - as do millions of passers-by who will view tower cranes as potential hazards.

Falcon and the HSE should be doing all they can to allay fears.

All similar machines need to be vigorously checked - and be seen to be checked to show that the industry can police itself.

Simply hiding away behind a 'no comment' or refusing to discuss ongoing investigations is not good enough.

Yet again a site disaster has turned the spotlight on construction - and the HSE and Falcon have been found wanting in handling the situation.