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Union urges HSE to share crane collapse lessons

25 Aug 20 The trades union that represents crane workers is urging the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) to clear ‘the cloud of suspicion’ hanging over some of its members.

Image of the fallen crane from London Fire Brigade
Image of the fallen crane from London Fire Brigade

A tower crane toppled over in Bow, east London, on 8th July just a day after it had been erected by NU Living, the building division of Swan Housing Association.

Unite, the UK’s construction union, wrote to the HSE last month urging it not to delay publication of the initial findings into what caused the accident and clear the name of the crane operators and their employers, Wolffkran Ltd, the owner of the Wolff 355B crane that fell.

While crane industry sources all seem to know exactly where the real responsibility lies for the collapse, and so HSE investigators must also know too, the reputation of Wolffkran and its employees remains under a cloud until HSE officially speaks out.

This week, the local council Tower Hamlets admitted that due to how and where the crane collapsed it may take six months before it can be fully removed.

Unite said that HSE’s initial findings are also important in order to ensure that similar accidents are prevented from occurring in the future.

Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain said: “It is vital that the HSE ends the delay and publishes its initial findings into the reasons why a crane tragically collapsed in Bow in July.

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“The HSE cannot be seen to be trying to sweep the investigation into this accident under the carpet. It is already nearly seven weeks since the accident occurred.

“The company concerned and the workers involved have a cloud of suspicion hanging over them and this is almost certainly unfair.

“Unite is the recognised union at Wolffkran.  Our members are already having to operate in difficult conditions due to Covid-19 pandemic; it is simply unfair to have unanswered questions about this accident hanging over them.

“Equally, the only way the industry can learn from this tragedy and ensure it is prevented from happening again is if the HSE’s initial findings are published.

“If the HSE cannot publish their initial findings for any reason then they must publicly say why and what is causing that delay.”

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