Durrington crane collapse tragedy - company fined £50,000

ONE of the companies behind the tragic 2005 crane collapse at a Durrington school, in which two men died, has been fined £50,000.

Construction workers Stephen Boatman, 45, from Reading, and Gary Miles, 37, from Crowthorne, died after the 120ft (36 metre) crane they were working on collapsed during the building of Oak Grove College in February, 2005.

Eurolift (Tower Cranes) Ltd admitted two health and safety offences before a trial in March of this year, which heard how part of the dismantling of the crane was left to an untrained, unqualified

"dogsbody", David Smith, 57, who was also badly hurt when the structure fell.

W D Bennetts Plant & Services Ltd, which owned Eurolift, denied responsibility but was found guilty of two similar offences by a jury after the two week hearing.

After the conviction in March, WD Bennetts Plant and Services Ltd was put into administration. On May 7 of this year, the company's name was changed to 'WDB1' by administrators.

In court today, speaking about Eurolift (Tower Cranes) Ltd, which still exists but is no longer trading, Judge William Wood stated his belief that the breach was serious enough to attract a fine in the region of 100,000 to 200,000.

However, taking into account the current financial state of the company, he imposed a fine of 50,000 and ordered them to pay costs of 1,000.

He said: "It seems to be right that Eurolift should discontinue trading, rather than for me to impose a trivial fine that does not reflect the gravity of the offence."

HSE Inspector Peter Collingwood, who led the investigation, said: "This was a wholly avoidable tragedy in which two men lost their lives and another was seriously injured. There was potential for many more lives to be lost.

"We would urge all employers to ensure employees are properly trained and understand the risks involved in the work they do."

The sentencing of WD Bennetts Plant and Services Ltd was adjourned and will be carried out at a later date.

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