UK crane rental company Baldwins has been ordered to pay a total of £900,000 (US$ 1.3 million) after being convicted of the corporate manslaughter of one of its employees.
Driver Lindsay Easton, 49, died when the 130 tonne all terrain crane he was operating careered off an access road and ran into an embankment close to Scout Moor Quarry, Edenfield, in the north west of England, on 15 August 2011.
Easton, an employee of Baldwins Crane Hire Ltd, suffered catastrophic injuries and died at the scene.
It is believed his efforts to divert the vehicle away from a public road saved a greater tragedy which could have taken the lives of other road users.
Following a trial at Preston Crown Court, Baldwins Crane Hire Ltd was convicted of corporate manslaughter and failing to ensure the safety of other persons.
The court heard that in the four years since the accident the firm has updated its records to a computerised system and introduced a maintenance programme using outside contractors to prevent any such tragedy happening again.
Judge Pamela Badley, sentencing on 22 December, at Preston Crown Court, ordered the company to pay a £700,000 (US$ 1 million) fine and £200,000 ($300,000) in costs.
Outside court, Easton’s daughter, Chelsea, said, “He wasn’t ill, he didn’t put himself in a reckless situation. He went to work and he died in a situation that could have been avoided.”
Now the family is calling for compulsory MoT testing for all cranes and heavy plant machinery which uses public highways.
Easton, from West Yorkshire, was not driving his usual vehicle when the accident happened. As he drove down the steep zig-zag track Easton lost control of the vehicle and crashed into an earth embankment. The front of the crane was crushed.
John McNamara, Lancashire Police detective sergeant, said, “Health and safety is something you can’t take chances with. All employers must take that seriously so that we don’t have anything like this again.”
McNamara continued, "The brakes on the crane driven by Mr Easton that day were in a shockingly bad state and this was a disaster waiting to happen. Had this happened on a road with more vehicles this incident could have been even more serious than it already was."