HSE focuses on calibration in Genie Z-135/70 collapse investigation

By Euan Youdale18 December 2013

The UK's Health and Safety Executive has said an initial investigation into the fatal collapse of a Terex AWP Genie Z-135/70 boom in London, UK, belonging to Kimberly Access, showed that the machine may not have been calibrated correctly.

The response came in a letter from the UK Minister of State for Disabled People, Mike Penning MP to IPAF CEO Tim Whiteman. It followed a letter from Mr Whiteman to the government in November calling for an urgent review of the time taken by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) to respond to the accident, which occured at Kimberly's west London depot in June this year.

The HSE is now carrying out a detailed technical examination of the control system to substantiate these findings. Mr Penning assured Mr Whiteman that if any evidence arose that these mahicnes were unsafe to use it would release that information immediately.

In the letter, Mr Penning wrote: “HSE investigates incidents of this nature for a number of reasons, including to identify, what went wrong; to take action to prevent future incidents; to determine if the law has been broken and decide whether enforcement action is appropriate.

"In this case HSE’s Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) began their examination of the MEWP on 17 July 2013 in the presence of a representative of its manufacturer. Their initial findings were that it appeared that the machine in question may not have been calibrated correctly. This may have allowed the basket to be extended to a position in which the MEWP became unstable.”

Mr Penning explained the current detailed examination of the control system must be independently verified before the HSL can produce its report. In the event that the HSL’s work identifies an issue affecting the safety of people using this type of machine, the HSE would release this information immediately.

Mr Penning also reiterated that the HSE uses safety alerts to inform industry and the workforce whenever new safety concerns emerge. These are posted on the HSE website and distributed widely through bodies such as IPAF, the Strategic Forum for Construction and other industry organisations.

“No safety alert has been issued on this occasion for the reasons explained above, the HSE has no evidence at present which would suggest that these machines are unsafe when properly calibrated and used,” said Mr Penning in the letter.

“I have passed on to HSE your kind offer of continuing support for its work, and know that it greatly values all that IPAF does in the interests of safety.”

Welcoming the Minister’s letter, IPAF CEO Tim Whiteman said, “We appreciate the Minister’s response and will consult with our members and the IPAF UK Country Council on the next steps. MEWP safety is IPAF’s top priority and will remain so.”

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