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Workers Drown in Crane Basket Incident

7th September 2015

Workers Drown in Crane Basket Incident.

A recent tragic event in Limerick in the Republic of Ireland has resulted in the death of two workers who drowned after the crane basket they were working in plunged into a river.

The men were working in the basket which was attached to a lorry loader crane and were carrying out repairs to the Thomond Bridge, which crosses the River Shannon, when the basket became detached and fell into the river. Initial reports suggest that three workers were involved and all were wearing safety harnesses and life jackets. One of the three managed to escape, while his colleagues were not so fortunate.


Image – Irish Examiner

When working over water in this manner, current advice from the UK’s Health & Safety Executive (GEIS 6 – ‘The Selection, Management and use of Mobile Elevating Work Platforms’ which can, in principle, be applied to other activities), states:

“Working next to, or over water must be assessed to identify whether the greatest risk of injury to the operator is from falling from the MEWP basket or drowning, if the MEWP falls into the water. The decision can then be made as to whether it is most appropriate to wear a harness to address the fall risk or whether a harness should not be worn due to the risk of drowning. Life jackets, not harnesses should be worn where there is a risk of drowning”.

When a basket/work platform is submerged into water and workers are wearing fall protection equipment and life jackets, the buoyancy of life jackets being worn by submerged workers can raise them towards the surface of the water. This means they are moved away from the point at which lanyards are attached to the basket/platform and makes release of the lanyard from the point of attachment very difficult, if not impossible.

An assessment of the limitations of the PPE being worn can assist in identifying this to be the case.

The HSA’s investigation continues.

For more, visit the Irish Examiner website at 

Simian clients undertaking work over or adjacent to water are free to contact their Account Manager for advice.