'There must be no delay' in crane accident investigation

Unite writes to HSE demanding answers after fatal crane accident in east London

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Unite has written to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) demanding answers after a Wolffkran crane in east London collapsed onto two terraced houses last week, killing one person and leaving four others injured.

June Harvey, who was resident at one of the houses, was found dead at the scene after the crane collapsed. One of those injured, who is understood to be a Wolfkrann worker involved in erecting the crane, remains in hospital in critical condition.

Although the circumstances surrounding the accident are as yet unclear, it is believed that the crane collapsed after the ground underneath it gave way, and was not associated with any problems with the crane itself, nor with the process of it being erected and tested.

Unite is the recognised union within Wolffkran representing crane drivers and associated occupations, and on the day of the accident called an urgent, full and transparent investigation into the circumstances that led to the accident.

Now, Unite national officer Jerry Swain has reiterated that call, after having written to the HSE to follow up on the pressing need for an investigation to alleviate crane workers’ and the wider public’s concerns.

Swain wrote that aside from being the recognised union at Wolffkran, Unite also has many members employed across the tower crane sector in construction “who are eager to understand the reasons behind this distressing incident. Any prolonged time lapse in identifying the cause will have a detrimental affected on our members”.

“The mental torture faced by a crane operator climbing his/her crane following this collapse cannot be overstated; there will I am sure also be such concerns among other site workers and the general public who live adjacent to sites where tower cranes are operated,” the letter continued.

Unite has called for the HSE to conduct an investigation urgently and to publish an interim report by the 21st of August. The union is also calling for the HSE to share with Unite all documents related to the accident and to commit to meeting with the union after publication of the interim and final reports.

 “There’s no question as to the competence and the skills of the workers who erected and tested the crane,” Swain told UniteLIVE.

“We believe the ground gave way which led to the collapse of the crane. If that is indeed the case we need to know as a matter of urgency why it gave way. That’s why it’s vital that we see a copy of the engineer’s report to determine whether the ground was prepared correctly and what the requirements were as stipulated in the report.”

“There is still a worker in hospital who is in very serious condition – not to mention the grieving family and friends of June Harvey, to whose deepest sympathy we extend — so it is absolutely vital that we get to the bottom of this. For their sake and for the sake of our crane members and the public who are understandably afraid, there must no delay in any forthcoming investigation.”

Hajera Blagg

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