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Canterbury school pupils almost crushed as steel girder crashes from lorry at crossing as children leave Spires Academy

By Gerry Warren

Stunned pupils narrowly escaped being crushed by a steel girder after it slid off a truck and onto a school crossing in Canterbury.

The half-ton beam fell from the lorry as it braked outside the Spires Academy in Island Road – landing just yards from youngsters who were heading home.

It damaged the cab of the four-week-old Ling Metals truck and hit the road, where the pupils would have crossed.

A steel girder fell on a pedestrian crossing outside the Spires Academy in Canterbury

Now the lorry driver has been suspended and an investigation launched by the firm to discover what went wrong.

This photograph was taken by a passing motorist who said it was a miracle no one was hurt.

The man, who did not want to be named, said: "It was quite an alarming sight.

"It looked to me like the lorry driver had to brake for the crossing and the girder must have shot forward. Clearly it wasn't secured properly."

The Hersden-bound carriageway was blocked for almost an hour and police attended while the beam was lifted and taken away by another vehicle.

School head teacher Nicki Mattin said: "A couple of my staff were on hand and we were lucky that no one was seriously hurt.

"It is the second accident that has occurred at the crossing in the last five months. There was a car which ran into the back of another vehicle that had stopped at the lights, shunting it forward onto the crossing.

"The majority of our students do use the crossing and our staff wear hi-vis jackets on duty, but it is still a concern."

Nicki Mattin, head teacher at Spires Academy in Canterbury

Ling Metals' website boasts "ensuring health and safety in everything we do", but three years ago it was fined £200,000 after father-of-three Darren Baker was crushed by a one-ton fork-lift truck bucket.

In 2002, the firm was also fined £30,000 after John Thomson, 60, was killed when roof beams collapsed and fell on him.

Commenting on the latest incident, its managing director Robin Ling insisted the company took its health and safety obligations "extremely seriously".

He said: "The police have been notified and we are waiting to hear whether they will take this incident further, but no one was hurt and no property damaged.

"The police have been notified and we are waiting to hear whether they will take this incident further, but no one was hurt and no property damaged..." - Robin Ling

"We have also contacted the Health and Safety Executive and been advised that we do not need to notify them as accidents involving a moving vehicle on a public road are exempt from reporting requirements, unless they involve a chemical substance.

"The security of the load is ultimately the responsibility of the driver. The driver has accepted full responsibility and has been suspended while an internal investigation is undertaken.

"All Ling Metals drivers have completed their Driver CPC qualification, which covers, among other things, the security of the load.

"On being informed of the incident by the driver concerned we immediately despatched another vehicle to recover the girder.

"All drivers were given a 'toolbox talk' concerning security of loads and a company memo will be issued to all employees to further emphasise this.

"The vehicle concerned is only four weeks old and will be subject to checks as part of the internal investigation."

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