Inquest hears how crane part fell on Norfolk man

Richard Turner, who was a popular scooter fan from Hopton, near Great Yarmouth.

Richard Turner, who was a popular scooter fan from Hopton, near Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Archant

Part of a crane fell on top of a Norfolk man while he was trying to load it onto a trailer, an inquest has heard.

Richard Anthony Turner was working as a crane slinger/signaller at the Shipdham Airfield Industrial Estate base of Falcon Crane Hire when the accident happened on Friday, January 10.

Despite being rushed to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, and undergoing several procedures, the 49-year-old from Potters Drive in Hopton died on February 4.

A jury at Norfolk Coroner's Court yesterday were shown CCTV footage showing Mr Turner being struck by a section of the crane arm, known as the jib.

Supervisor and crane operator Kevin Harding had worked with Mr Turner for six years and was working with him to lift the crane parts onto a trailer on the day of the accident.

He told how it was Mr Turner's role to attach the chain and lifting hook to the lifting eye on the jib.

He said it was usual practice for him to ask if it was 'alright' and then start to lift the crane when given the okay by Mr Turner.

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'One minute I had got it and the next minute, it's on the floor,' said Mr Harding, who said he did not know why the crane had suddenly dropped the load.

Emergency services were called and paramedic Andrew Tooke described Mr Turner as 'lucid' with no sign of head or neck injuries or breathing problems, and the injuries appeared to have been sustained to his abdomen and below.

He said: 'I asked him for his recollection of what occurred and he said the cane part knocked him slightly to the side, knocking him to the floor then the part was lowered on to him.'

John-Paul Waite, counsel on behalf of Mr Turner's family, questioned Falcon managing director Douglas Genge and yard manager Tim Henson about why a report to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was not filed sooner than the following Monday. He also asked why the piece of crane which struck Mr Turner was removed from the site instead of being left in place for an HSE inspection, once it became clear on the Saturday how serious Mr Turner's injuries were.

Mr Waite quizzed Falcon staff over whether there was adequate lighting in the yard, whether visual checks should be made by supervisors to see if loads are properly slung and if it was procedure that supervisors should also be crane operators.

Philip Gale, Falcon operations manager, said police were asked if the crane part needed to be kept, but staff were told it was not considered to be part of a crime scene.

He told the inquest he reviewed the CCTV footage on the evening of the accident and in his opinion the load had dropped too quickly for it to be a crane or brake failure.

This prompted him to inspect and photograph the jib's lifting eye, which had been recently painted and the scrapes on it led him to conclude that the lifting hook had not been properly attached.

The inquest continues.

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