Liverpool crane death building boss fined £80,000

Mark Thornton
Image caption Mark Thornton was crushed by a column being carried by the crane

The boss of a building firm has been fined £80,000 after a father-of-two was crushed to death when a crane toppled over in Liverpool.

Mark Thornton, 46, from Longridge near Preston, died when he was hit by a steel column being carried by the crane on 29 March 2007.

His boss Benjamin Lee, 36, the managing director of Siteweld Construction Ltd, admitted breaching safety regulations.

Lee was also ordered to pay £18,478 costs by Liverpool Crown Court.

Siteweld Construction Ltd, of Berry Lane, Longridge, Preston, also admitted safety breaches but received a nominal fine of £50 with no costs as it has ceased trading.

Mr Thornton was constructing a new floor on a warehouse at Wavertree Business Park when he was hit by the column.

Safety zone

The court heard Lee, of Ashley Lane, Goosnargh, Preston, had failed to make sure the work was planned and carried out safely.

The crane was used to lift the six-tonne (5.9 tons) steel column when it was nearly 18m away, moving it out of its safe lifting capacity for that distance.

Image caption Benjamin Lee admitted breaching health and safety laws

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the crane was not properly maintained and the external alarm could not be heard by those working nearby.

The override switches were also faulty, including the switch which prevented the crane lifting loads beyond its capacity.

Crane hire firm, Bryn Thomas Crane Hire Ltd, and its operator, Frederick Scott, were were sentenced at an earlier hearing at Liverpool Crown Court on 11 April 2011.

Mr Thornton's widow said: "Mark and I were together over 20 years. We used to do everything together. When Mark died, my life stopped. I don't live, I exist."

Sarah Wadham, the investigating inspector at HSE, said: "If the work had been properly planned, and the crane had been properly maintained, then Mr Thornton would still be alive today. It is vital construction companies learn from this case to prevent similar deaths in the future."

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