x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Safety defects found in toppled crane

The crane that fell on Hamdan Street earlier this week was old and would not have passed a safety inspection, experts said.

Construction workers yesterday clean up the damage left by a crane that collapsed on Tuesday morning.
Construction workers yesterday clean up the damage left by a crane that collapsed on Tuesday morning.

ABU DHABI //The crane that toppled on to Hamdan Street on Tuesday had no safety certificate and would have failed a safety inspection.

Its owners were ordered to halt all their projects after inspectors found safety violations at the site of the incident. "There were many defects in that crane," said Syed Zafer of TUV Middle East, the company that carried out a preliminary investigation for the municipality. "It would not have passed one of our inspections."

The mobile crane fell over just before 10am on Tuesday near the junction of Salam Street and Hamdan Street. Initial reports said it had a wrecking ball attached and was moving in reverse when it toppled. The crane's horizontal boom bent backwards and landed in the road.

No one was injured, but dismantling the crane took hours and created traffic gridlock in the city centre.

Abdulaziz Zurub, health, safety and environment manager at the municipality, said site visits yesterday uncovered violations including improper welding on the crane.

“It is very lucky that no one was hurt,” he said.

The crane’s owners, Al Hareef, are not one of the municipality’s 25 registered demolition companies. No new building or demolition permits will be issued to the company until it registers and is approved by the municipality.

Mr Zafer, whose company is one of six approved by the municipality to inspect and certify lifting equipment, said the crane had no safety certification and was too old to be used. He also said modifications had been made to the crane that are not recommended by international standards.

A full investigation report will be available early next week.

The National says: Crane accident was an avoidable danger

Ali Ahmed El Taher, the project manager for Al Hareef, said the company had a safety certificate from Civil Defence. He declined to say when it was issued. An Al Hareef employee said the company hired only experienced equipment operators.

The municipality will begin implementing new health and safety guidelines this year that include regulations on lifting-equipment inspections. Third-party companies will issue safety certificates, which contractors and construction companies must show to municipal safety inspectors on regular site visits.

“We are very strict,” said Rehan Zaidi, the general manager of Team Safety, one of the municipality-approved companies. “If the equipment is not 100 per cent, we will not issue a certificate.”

Such regulations are already in place in Dubai, but safety inspections of construction equipment in the capital are optional. Some companies voluntarily seek out inspections but the documents are not yet required by law.

Reiner Litao, the technical manager at municipality-approved Star Safety, said the frequency of inspections to update the safety certificates depended on the equipment and could range from checks every year to once every four years.

New municipal regulations will also require that all equipment operators receive some sort of qualification. Workshops led by the third-party inspectors will be held to educate builders on the new laws.

“This is absolutely necessary in Abu Dhabi,” Mr Zaidi said. “Because no one from the municipality is coming to check, companies say, ‘Why do I need a certificate?’ But they do need it. If the equipment fails, someone can get hurt.”

Inspection companies said enforcing a culture of safety would reduce accidents and injuries on construction sites.

“Right now, construction companies are not interested in investing in safety,” Mr Zafer said. “They are supposed to have safety inspections but no one complies.”

New regulations will complement continuing safety initiatives. Daily visits from the municipality’s health and safety inspectors, which began last year, specifically focus on crane safety, and every building project is required to draw up a comprehensive safety plan, which must include measures to minimise the risk from any machinery, particularly lifting gear.

jthomas@thenational.ae