Baldwins Crane Hire has been found guilty of corporate manslaughter after a collision killed a 49-year-old man.
The company was convicted of failing to ensure the safety of its employees and failing to ensure the safety of other persons at Preston Crown Court following the death of Lindsay Easton.
Easton, from West Yorkshire, was driving a 130-tonne mobile crane, when the brake system failed on August 15, 2011, and the vehicle crashed into an earth bank.
He suffered multiple injuries and died when the front of the vehicle was crushed in the impact.
An investigation was subsequently launched by Lancashire Police, working alongside the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), reports the Rossendale Free Press.
It was found several of the wheel brakes were inoperable, worn and contaminated. The engine retarding (braking) systems were also found to be either non-functional, disabled and damaged, providing only limited braking force.
As part of the investigation, brakes were inspected across the Baldwins fleet with several other cranes found to have “significant issues” which required immediate work.
Lancashire Police said “significant failings” were also found within the company structure, with a lack of supervision and recording taking place of organised maintenance work by senior management.
The month-long trial also heard the crane was not Easton’s usual vehicle, after he replaced another operator when he took over the site operation.
Baldwins Crane Hire will be sentenced on December 22.
Det Insp Jim Elston, of Lancashire Police, said the company had shown ‘complete disregard for the safety of their employees and other road users’.
He said: “This tragedy was entirely avoidable had the company acted responsibly and ensured their crane fleet was effectively serviced and maintained.
“It has been shown from all the evidence that the state of the brakes on the crane were in a shocking condition and sadly it was an accident waiting to happen.”