Near-miss leads to $25,000 fine for unsafe lifting

A heavy-duty trailer manufacturer has been convicted and ordered to pay more than $30,000 after a trailer fell while being lifted, narrowly missing three workers.

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Published: 21 January 2022

MaxiTRANS Australia Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Ballarat Magistrates' Court on 18 January after pleading guilty to a charge under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for failing to maintain systems of work that are, as far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risk to health.

The company was fined $25,000 and ordered to pay costs of $5,742.

The court heard that on 20 June 2018, three workers were using two cranes to lift a partially constructed trailer at its Wendouree premises. Workers usually did this by attaching chains to lifting lugs, which were fixed to the trailer using a magnetic drill.

However, on this date, the magnetic drills were being repaired. The court heard that workers instead looped a chain and hook around rails at the front and rear of the trailer, before lifting.

As a worker was placing a support stand beneath the raised trailer it fell – hitting the stand, rolling to the right and narrowly missing all three workers.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said WorkSafe would not hesitate to prosecute employers who fail in their duty of care to maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to health.

"This was a significant failure, which could easily have been catastrophic for the three workers involved," Dr Beer said.

"The risks associated with working with cranes are well-known and there is no excuse for failing to ensure that safe systems are in place to protect workers."

When using cranes, measures to manage the risks include:

  • Selecting the proper crane and lifting equipment for the task, size and weight of the load.
  • Ensuring cranes are maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications and requirements, and operated within their design parameters.
  • Checking that crane operators and persons connecting loads have the skills, training and licences to operate safely.
  • Creating and adhering to safe systems of work and ensuring all workers are properly trained and competent before commencing the task.
  • Considering environmental factors such as weather, ground bearing capacity, overhead and underground services such as powerlines and pipes/drains, and ensuring non-essential persons are excluded from the area of operation.
  • For construction work, ensuring a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) is created and adhered to.