Saturday, June 23, 2007

Battersea crane campaigners launch petition

SEEKING JUSTICE for her son and
safety for others. Liliana Alexa, seen here (with dark glasses) with Construction Safety Campaigners on Workers Memorial Day. Her son Michael was killed in Battersea crane collapse. Liliana and Doru Alexa's names are high on the petition to prime minister.

RESIDENTS of a Battersea estate where two men were killed by a tower crane collapse have launched a petition to the prime minister demanding safety improvements, including full outside inspection of crane safety. Their call comes two weeks after another crane, owned by Laing O'Rourke, collapsed on a site in Croydon.

It was on Tuesday 26th September 2006, that two young men lost their lives due to a crane collapse at a Barratts site on Thessally Road/Battersea Park Road. One was the crane driver, the other was Michael Alexa, the son of a local resident. Michael was taking care of his car outside the family home when the crane, which was more than 30 years old, crashed down on top of him, after the crane driver had landed in the windscreen of a nearby car.

For "safety" reasons, Michael Alexa was left at the site for five days before his body was removed. A nearby low rise block of flats was also badly damaged, resulting in the whole block being evacuated for at least a week. One end of the damaged block comprised of shops on the ground floor with flats directly above. The shops served the local community, which has a number of elderly members, a lot of who relied heavily on these shops. They have been closed ever since the disaster and the future of these shops is still not known.

The site previously housed John Milton Primary School, which was closed in August 2004, much to the anger of parents and local residents.

Since the crane disaster, no one has accepted responsibility for the deaths of the two men. Not Barratts, whose building site it was and not Falcon Cranes, who were the suppliers of the cranes. In fact, although they were invited to a public meeting, on 25 October, Barratts and Falcon Cranes did not send anyone along to represent them. Neither did Wandsworth Council.

It seems that having let Barratts have the site for luxury flats, the council no longer considers itself responsible, even though the building - and the disaster -took place amid an existing council estate.

Local people are fighting a twofold battle, against development which they see as neither for the benefit of the local community, nor safe (a high-rise block on marshland?) and over the crane disaster which killed Michael Alexa. For this they have linked up with trades unionists and families in the Construction Safety Campaign, and with Battersea and Wandsworth Trades Union Council .

As a campaigner writes on their web page:

"We are also quite astonished to learn that it is not law for crane inspections to be carried out by independent bodies and that the developers are actually allowed to use someone from within the company. Surely that's like me M.O.T'ing my own car!!! This kind of incident is becoming increasingly common. We want to stamp it out so that more innocent people do not have to lose their lives for the sake of large companies making money".

Julia Brandreth from the Battersea and Wandsworth TUC has written to trades unionists saying:

Dear All

The Battersea Crane Disaster Action Group have launched a
petition to the Prime Minister to Stop Crane Deaths. The group's aim is to get 2000 online signatures, hopefully well before the 31 May 2008 deadline. You can sign up at the link below or by going to
In detail the petition is asking that all cranes:
1) be independently inspected and certified fit for use
2) stop being used beyond a certain age
3) be registered on a central register
4) have safety records readily available for all to see
and that
5) all construction companies have a duty to consult with residents in the local area on crane usage

Please sign up now and pass to all your contacts.
There was a similar crane collapse involving the same company, Falcon Cranes, in Liverpool in January this year, killing one worker on the site and leaving the operator trapped in his cab. The Health and Safety Executive announced after this that it was prohibiting operation of tower cranes owned by Falcon, while investigations continued.

But writing in the Contract Journal last month, Colin Sowman revealed that there had already been an order served on Falcon between the Battersea and Liverpool incidents.

Two men were injured when a crane malfunctioned during the Wembley stadium construction.

The Croydon collapse on June 4 was blamed on a possible error by untrained staff. Parts of the crane had not been properly bolted. Plant contractors say that there is a shortage of trained crane erectors and operators as building work expands. But who employs untrained staff on such potentially lethal work, who failed to train sufficient workers, and who takes responsibility for checking the cranes are properly erected?

Croydon crane collapse, view:

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At 10:14 PM, Anonymous Anna said...

This sounds positively third world, Charlie. I can't believe a massive fine hasn't been slapped on the companies involved. What about Health and Safety? Or the unions?


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