Crane death was accidental – inquest

General View of the Falcon Crane Hire Ltd site at Shipdham Airfield Industrial Estate.
Picture: James Bass

General View of the Falcon Crane Hire Ltd site at Shipdham Airfield Industrial Estate. Picture: James Bass Copy: For: EDP BUSINESS EDP Pics © 2007 Tel: (01603) 772434 - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2007

A father was killed in an accident after a crane part fell on him, an inquest heard.

Richard Turner.

Richard Turner. - Credit: Archant

Richard Turner, 49, initially seemed alert and was able to answer questions after the arm of a crane, known as a jib, crushed him.

The crane slinger had attached a hook, on the end of a chain, to the crane part for it to be lifted on to a trailer before it fell.

Colleagues at the Falcon Crane Hire yard, at Shipdham Airfield Industrial Estate, were able to use a crane to lift the crane part off him, but his condition deteriorated despite a series of operations.

He died more than three weeks later at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N) after his life support machines were switched off.

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The medical cause of death was given as multiple organ failure due to abdominal blood poisoning due to trauma to the pelvis and abdomen due to an industrial accident, a jury inquest heard on Wednesday (November 19).

The hearing was attended by Mr Turner's family, including his widow Rebecca.

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Mr Turner, of Potters Drive, in Hopton, was injured on January 10 and died on February 4.

Paramedic Adrian Bateman, in a written statement, said: 'The patient was alert and talking, lying in a muddy puddle and covered in blankets.'

Police attended, but the area was not sealed off and investigated as a crime scene.

PC Peter Fuller told the inquest this was because Mr Turner's injuries were not initially thought to be life-threatening, and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) did not visit the site until the following week for the same reason.

It later became apparent that Mr Turner had suffered severe injuries, including a fractured pelvis, ribs, vertebrae, leg and soft tissue injuries.

Steve Gill, an HSE inspector, visited Falcon Crane Hire on January 16 to gather evidence, including CCTV footage.

Some evidence had already been removed, including the jib which had been taken to a site in Liverpool, the inquest heard.

Police had told the company it could go about business as usual, the inquest heard, and the HSE found no issues with the site.

The crane part was found to be structurally sound in an inspection, but it emerged through questioning at the inquest that the company which inspected the crane part – Tower Crane Services Limited – was a sister company of Falcon Crane Hire.

Mr Gill said he had believed it to be an independent report and would have taken steps to ensure there was no conflict of interest had he been aware.

Though he added there was no strict ban on people from the same company conducting the inspection.

The HSE conducted a test lift as a re-enactment, and concluded the most likely cause of the accident was that the hook was not fully engaged with the lifting eye on the crane part at the time of the lift.

An 11-strong jury took more than an hour to return a unanimous conclusion of accidental death.

In a written statement explaining the nature of the accident, they said it was most probable that the hook was not adequately secured to the lifting eye of the crane part, which caused it to fall.

Norfolk coroner Jacqueline Lake did not order any reports in light of the jury's findings.

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