The preparations for placing a deck on the Juliana Bridge in Alphen aan den Rijn last year were seriously insufficient, according to the Dutch Safety Board. The board calls it “inevitable” that the two construction cranes trying to place the deck collapsed,
The accident happened on August 3rd last year. Two cranes collapsed while trying to lift a deck onto the bridge. The cranes and bridge part crashed into surrounding buildings. Many buildings were damaged and 18 homes were declared uninhabitable. No one was injured.
“The operating companies underestimated the complexity of the work and no party realized that lifting the bridge portion had risks for the environment”, the report reads. The cranes were not stable enough, even before they started lifting the deck, and they were at their full capacity allowing no room for error. “Even a flawless execution of the planned activities could not have prevented it.”
The construction company hired to oversee the work was also criticized. The company did not sufficiently ensure that all risks were taken into account. According to the Board, the company shifted the responsibility of lifting the deck to the steel company, who in turn shifted it to the hired crane company.
“Due to this fragmentation of tasks and responsibilities, the risk management fell short.” the Safety Board writes. “The parties blindly trusted in each other’s knowledge and experience and leaned on the responsibility of the other. Both the steel company and the construction company let the unsafe lifting happen.”
The Safety Board also concludes that the involved companies did too little research in advance on the risks of lifting a heavy piece of bridge in a densely populated area. The municipality’s focus was on limiting inconvenience to local residents, not their safety. According to the report, the municipality should have been more active in ensuring “environmental safety.”
The Safety Board advises that one party be designated to risk management in any future major construction activities.