Concrete manufacturer fined $35,000 after crane incident

A company that manufactures concrete products has been convicted and fined after an incident at a Shepparton factory.

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Published: 14 September 2022

Precast Civil Industries Pty Ltd, trading as Icon Septech Vic, pleaded guilty in the Shepparton Magistrates' Court on Friday to a single charge each of failing to provide a safe system of work and failing to provide necessary training for employees to perform their work safely.

The company was fined $35,000 with conviction and also ordered to pay $3,716 in costs.

In April 2020, two workers were directed to extract a five-metre rectangular concrete trough from a mould.

The task involved suspending and flipping the trough and mould, weighing about 2,600 kilograms combined, to enable them to be lowered onto support stands for separation.

The court heard after the load was lifted 1.5 metres using a gantry crane and spreader bar, a worker placed both hands on the load and began rocking it back and forth to invert it.

Following the second push, one end of the load detached from the crane and fell to the factory floor, narrowly missing the workers.

The court heard it was reasonably practicable for Precast Civil Industries to ensure, among other things, that the task was performed by mechanical means without the physical involvement of workers, that an exclusion zone was set up around the rotation area, and that workers were trained by a qualified person in the use of the crane and mould spinning task.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said while an injury did not eventuate in this instance, the company's offending was still serious.

"Unsafe use of cranes puts workers at risk of catastrophic consequences," Dr Beer said.

"There is no excuse for duty holders who fail to provide safe systems of work and adequate training to their 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 in place and adhered to.