Firm fined £130,000 after 'catastrophic' crane collapse in North Sea

Inspectors found health and safety failings put a number of people at risk.

A company has been fined £130,000 after a crane “catastrophically” collapsed in the North Sea.

Rowan Drilling Limited was handed the penalty after pleading guilty to breaking health and safety rules at Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said while no one was injured during the incident on the Rowan Gorilla VII installation on March 31, 2016 “chaotic scenes ensued”.

The watchdog said the collapse of the boom sent debris flying into the air, damaging a nearby vessel and a hose was sent out of control before rupturing and leaving a cloud of cement dust in its wake.

HSE said it was an “accident waiting to happen”.

The crane collapse happened in 2016.HSE

The collapse happened in the central North Sea as staff were preparing to recover a faulty submersible pump.

As the crane operator raised the boom to clear one of the three legs of the installation it failed and collapsed.

HSE found the immediate cause of the crane collapse was that Rowan Drilling Limited had not checked that a limit switch, designed to prevent the crane boom from being raised to the point of mechanical failure, had been correctly set.

Inspectors said there were five Rowan employees on and around the crane at the time while there were 13 crew onboard the Solvik Supplier vessel.

HSE inspector Brian Kennedy said: “It was pure luck that nobody was seriously hurt or died as a result of these failings.

“As with so many incidents, the circumstances leading to the collapse of the port bow crane on the RGVII were years in the making and symptomatic of a defective safety management system that allowed those conditions to exist and persist.  

“This was quite simply an accident waiting to happen and illustrates the vital importance of maintaining and testing crane limit switches to ensure they will always provide the intended level of protection.”

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