All cranes in use within two weeks, hopes Falcon

Norfolk company Falcon Crane Hire is hoping that all of its cranes will be back in use within two weeks after 170 were shut down in the wake of two fatal accidents.

A Norfolk company is hoping that all of its cranes will be back in use within two weeks after 170 were shut down in the wake of two fatal accidents.

Two cranes owned by Falcon Crane Hire, based in Shipdham, near Dereham, have collapsed during the past four months killing three people.

On Wednesday, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) stopped 170 of its tower cranes from operating until independent experts classed them as safe.

The action has affected cranes on about 100 building sites nationally, with four sites in Norfolk split between Norwich and Swaffham, but the company said it had lost no business.

The Metropolitan and Merseyside police forces are still investigating the two collapses and criminal charges have not been ruled out in relation to the incidents.

Falcon Crane Hire employs 320 staff and is the second largest crane-hire firm in the UK.

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Yesterday, a statement from the company said it was aiming for all of the safety inspections to be carried out within two weeks.

All of the cranes will be inspected on site by 18 experts from crane manufacturer JASO and other professional bodies.

The cranes will be able to resume work almost immediately providing they are found to be free of structural and safety defects and none has been found since inspections began last Wednesday.

Doug Genge, managing director of Falcon Crane Hire, said: “Safety has always been at the heart of all the company's operations and I am deeply concerned that after 24 years of crane hire without a single tower crane loss, we should be faced with two incidents within five months.

“Our thoughts and condolences go out to the families and friends of those who lost their lives, and they can be assured that everything that can be done to identify the cause of the accidents is being done.”

In September, Falcon driver Jonathan Cloke, 37, who used to live at Docking, near Fakenham, and Londoner Michael Alexa, 23, died when a 160ft crane collapsed on a building site in Battersea, London.

Last Monday, a building site worker, believed to be Polish, was killed and Falcon crane operator Barry Walker, 31, of Liverpool suffered minor injuries after the collapse of a 120ft-crane in the city.

A HSE spokesman described the purpose of the “prohibition notice”, adding that Falcon had been very co-operative.

She said: “We will be looking at the reports as they come in to see if there are any issues with these types of cranes or anything else, but this is mainly a precautionary measure.”

The HSE is providing technical support to the two police investigations and will begin a separate investigation into any health and safety breaches once they have been concluded.