A crane operator at the Falmouth Docks, a shipyard near the far southwestern tip of England, has come in for public praise for shifting a collapsing jib boom away from workers below. Eyewitnesses say that operator Derek Allen averted tragedy by staying at his post and rotating the crane as it fell apart in front of him.
The Falmouth Packet reports that the crane was above the Royal Navy auxiliary RFA Tidespring on Wednesday morning when the jib's supporting cables began to give way. Allen realized that the jib could fall, and he quickly slewed away to put the structure out over the dock instead. The jib fell with an "almighty crash," nearby residents said.
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The crane buried 10 acetylene cylinders, raising fears of an explosion and prompting authorities to cordon off the area. One firefighter sustained a minor injury during the response effort. but no workers were injured in the collapse and the Tidespring was not damaged. The UK's Health and Safety Executive has launched an investigation into the incident.
Bystanders said that there likely would have been fatalities if Allen had not kept his cool and protected his coworkers. As an unfortunate example, a crane collapse last week at Samsung Heavy Industries' Geoje yard killed six workers and injured more than 20. In that incident, a tower crane collided with a gantry crane and damaged its jib, which fell onto a break area for shipyard workers. Authorities temporarily closed Geoje for an inspection and a review of Samsung Heavy Industries' safety policies, and an investigation continues.