Boatyard Firm Fined for Safety Violations

An Isle of Wight boatyard firm, Harold Hayles Ltd, has been fined by Isle of Wight Magistrates’ Court for its failure to adhere to health and safety regulations following an incident where a mobile crane that was poorly maintained turned over in the middle of a lifting operation at Yarmouth Harbour. There was nobody who sustained injury in the incident that occurred in November 2011, however a car was badly damaged.

The controls of the crane ceased to work properly during the de-rigging phase of an operation when it was being utilised for lifting a yacht into a cradle for winter. In order to move and free the controls, the driver retracted stabilising outriggers. Even though the driver was successful, the crane overbalanced and fell over due to the fact that the jib was still extended.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation and found this was a common occurrence with the controls and that the crane was due annual maintenance and testing. By law, all lifting equipment is required to undergo examination every year; however, three weeks before this incident occurred the crane had missed its test because of the occurrence of a mechanical failure when the engineer came.

HSE then discovered that that the company had not provided an adequate lifting plan for the yacht operation, which is also required by law. The company had been warned by the HSE previously in February 2009 when a routine inspection by the HSE found areas of concern with regards to their lifting operations.

Harold Hayles Ltd admitted guilt to two violations of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 in addition to one breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was then ordered to pay fines of £4,000 in addition to £4,000 in costs

John Caboche, a HSE Inspector, had this to say following the hearing –

“This was a serious incident that could have ended in tragedy had the crane toppled onto a person and not an empty car.

“It was wholly preventable and could have been avoided had the crane been better maintained and had the lifting operation been better planned and managed.

“It is essential that all lifting equipment is in good working condition and that work is carefully assessed by competent personnel, with a lift plan in place and communicated to everyone involved in the work.

“Harold Hayles was fully aware of the dangers and HSE publishes extensive guidance that is readily-available of how to safely manage this type of work.”