Sun, Apr 26, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Operator negligence led to fatal crane accident: Taipei Labor Department

By Mo Yan-chih and Meggie Lu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Overloading a crane and failure to take heed of high winds were the main factors that caused the boom of a crane to fall and kill two Chinese tourists in Taipei City at about 1:30pm on Friday, a preliminary examination by the Taipei City Labor Department found yesterday.

The boom that fell from the 37th floor of the construction site in Xinyi District (信義) on Friday smashed the back of a tour bus carrying 25 tourists from Guangdong Province, China, leaving two passengers dead and four injured.

The department inspected the construction site yesterday morning and said the crane, which had a load capacity of 3.2 tonnes, was used to lift and move a 4-tonne boom.

“Lifting a mid-sized boom with a small-sized crane is a normal construction process, but the construction company ignored the load capacity of the crane. This is a case of occupational negligence,” Labor Standards Inspection Office Director Chang Chi-yu (張基煜) said after visiting the construction site on Songgao Road.

Strong wind was also a factor behind the accident and the construction company should be blamed for failing to block off the alley while operating the crane, he said.

The construction company violated the Labor Safety and Health Law (勞工安全衛生法), and will be given a NT$210,000 fine, he said.

President International Development Corp is the main contractor of the ongoing municipal build­­-­operate-transfer project. The company and its subcontractors, Ta-Chen Construction Engineering Corp and Global Leader Neoweb, which is the provider and operator of the crane, are constructing a multifunctional building that will include a bus transit center, a shopping square and a hotel.

Work is scheduled to be completed next year.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) visited the injured tourists yesterday morning and reiterated the city government's determination to demand that the companies take full responsibility for the accident.

“The city government has already demanded that all construction at the site be halted indefinitely and we will determine the contractors' responsibility according to the toughest standards,” Hau said.

Hau said the injured tourists sent to Taipei City Hospital's Zhongxiao branch, 53-year-old Wang Peiling (王佩玲) and 29-year-old Ye Zhitang (葉志棠), were in stable condition and should be out of hospital in three days.

Another injured tourist, 63-year-old Zhang Shiguang (張世洸), remained in critical condition at Taipei Medical University Hospital.

Tzao Neil-wen (曹乃文), chief of the cardiac surgery department at the hospital, said Zhang, 63, had suffered severe cranial damage, including leakage of brain fluid.

Zhang also sustained multiple bone fractures all over his body and is suffering from neurogenic and hemorrhagic shock, Tzao said. Zhang is unconscious, he said.

Hau promised to provide the best medical care and assistance possible to the injured tourists.

Meanwhile, the Taipei District Prosecutors Office and police released six crane operators early yesterday on bail of between NT$100,000 and NT$500,000 each after eight hours of questioning over the accident.

Two representatives of two construction companies that are involved in the construction were also questioned, but later freed without bail.

Chief Prosecutor Lai Cheng-sheng (賴正聲) said there would be no further probe into criminal liability until the municipal authorities completed their investigation.

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