Lindsay F Nelson Manufacturing Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the Echuca Magistrate’s Court, to two charges under the OHS Act 2004: failing to provide and maintain systems of work that would eliminate or reduce the risk of the mobile crane colliding with pedestrians; and failing to provide information, instruction or training in relation to the hazards and risks associated with working in close proximity to the mobile plant or stabilising loads.
The company was also ordered to pay $3430 in costs.
The court heard that on 7 March, 2016, a crane driver at the Kyabram Rd site was using a mobile crane to transport 12 sections of steel that were each between 6-10 metres long.
He asked a co-worker to walk alongside the crane to balance the steel sections with his hand so they would not rotate. The court heard the worker walked up to 20 metres beside the crane before he stumbled and fell and the crane ran over his leg. The worker suffered a fractured hip socket and a crushed foot in the incident. He was taken to Bendigo Hospital where his foot was amputated.
Following the incident, WorkSafe’s investigation found that the usual procedure in transporting stays with the mobile crane involved an employee stabilising the stays by hand while walking alongside the moving crane, placing workers at risk of colliding with the crane.
The investigation also revealed that while the injured employee had worked at the company for 12 months, he had not received any instruction or training in relation to the hazards and risks associated with working in close proximity to mobile plant or stabilising loads.
The company also had no documented Job Safety Assessments, safe work procedures, Safe Work Method Statements or maintenance records in relation to the mobile crane.
The court heard that since the incident, the company had employed an occupational health and safety officer, created safe work documents and no longer used the mobile crane. It now uses an overhead factory bridge crane for similar tasks or a private crane company.
WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, said the worker’s terrible injury could have been avoided had the company followed standard industry safety procedures.
“The company failed on many counts,” Ms Williams said. “It failed to train its workers and it failed to have appropriate safety processes in place - and followed - for high risk work. Putting workers in harm’s way by asking them to stabilise heavy loads by hand while walking in close proximity to a mobile crane is appalling and totally unacceptable.
“Powered mobile machinery is a leading cause of death and serious injury in Victorian workplaces. Too many workers are still being hit by, crushed or fall from powered mobile machinery onsite. But every incident is preventable.”
The use of cranes is considered high risk and employers must identify all hazards associated with their installation, commissioning, decommissioning, dismantling, erection and use. They must:
- Control any associated risks associated with using the crane and eliminate them as much as possible.
- Ensure that cranes are inspected and maintained regularly to ensure their ongoing safe use.
- Keep maintenance records to assist in determining what components have reached the end of their intended design life at the time of a major inspection.
- When transporting heavy loads, ensure no workers are underneath or alongside the load. Be mindful of any workers out of the line of site of the crane operator during an operation.
- Create comprehensive safe work polices for each crane being used.
- In preparing safety procedures for using cranes, consider other environmental factors such as wet or corrosive conditions that may affect its use.
- Provide thorough training for employees working with cranes and ensure this is documented.
- Adapt policies and procedures for changing work sites and different machinery. Employers need to make sure every worker understands how and where machines will be used, particularly if multiple sites and equipment are involved.