$400,000 fine after worker killed in crane tragedy

A crane company has been convicted and fined $400,000 after one man died and two others were injured during a concrete pour at a Box Hill construction site.


Clark Cranes Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Melbourne County Court today after a jury found the company guilty of one charge of failing to ensure that plant supplied was safe and without risks to health.

The Court heard that in September 2018, a crane was being used to lift a large bucket of wet concrete into a 3m x 3m pit.

Two workers were inside the pit to assist with the concrete pour when a section of the crane, known as the hoist rope termination assembly, failed.

This caused the hoist ropes to break and the bucket to free fall.

One worker was crushed and killed by the load; another was seriously injured and trapped in concrete.

A dogman standing outside the pit also received minor injuries from the incident.

A WorkSafe investigation found the company failed to ensure a split pin was safely inserted in the hoist rope termination bolt, causing the load to drop when a castellated nut on the hoist rope termination bolt became unscrewed.

It was reasonably practicable for Clark Cranes to have ensured a split pin’s presence by completing a thorough inspection of the crane prior to it being used, and either inserting a new pin if it was absent, or replacing it if it was faulty.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said this matter highlighted the importance of even the most basic safety measures.

"This tragedy should never have occurred, and WorkSafe will continue to prosecute employers who fail in their duty to provide safe equipment."

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.