Truss maker fined $200,000 after fatal lift

A timber truss manufacturer has been convicted and fined $200,000 for unsafe work practices following the death of a worker at a Point Cook construction site.


Melbourne Truss Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court on Thursday after earlier pleading guilty to a single charge of failing to ensure a workplace under its control was safe and without risks to health.

The company was also ordered to pay $11,234 in costs.

In March 2020, Melbourne Truss workers were using a vehicle-mounted loading crane to unload prefabricated timber floor trusses onto a concrete slab within the framework of a townhouse under construction at the site.

During the unloading, the crane operator was standing on the delivery truck tray, while his assistant was standing on the slab.

The incident occurred when a bundle of trusses being lifted by the crane made contact with a steel structure that formed part of the townhouse framework, knocking it inwards and striking the assistant in the face.

The worker fell backwards and struck his head on the concrete slab. He died at the scene.

The court found it was reasonably practicable for Melbourne Truss to have reduced the risk to health and safety by ensuring people were in a safe location during the unloading process.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said the death was entirely preventable.

"This tragedy is a stark reminder for every employer using cranes to ensure safety is the first priority each and every time a load is lifted," Dr Beer said.

"Cranes and lifting equipment are an essential part of the daily work for many industries but work involving cranes is high risk and must be treated with the utmost care and caution."

To manage risks when using vehicle loading cranes, duty holders should:

  • Ensure the crane and lifting equipment selected is appropriate for the task, including the size and weight of the load.
  • Prepare designated lifting areas to enable the crane to be set up as per the manufacturer's recommendations, and operated within its design parameters.
  • Ensure the crane is operated from a safe location to prevent falls or the inadvertent operation the crane.
  • Establish exclusion zones for lifting and landing areas and the load's travel path, taking into consideration any restricted areas and nearby incomplete or temporarily braced structures.
  • Ensure the operator is appropriately trained and competent for the type of crane being used and, where required, holds the appropriate high risk work (HRW) licence.
  • Where a crane operator does not have line of sight or the load is not visible at any stage and the operator requires direction in the movement of the load, ensure a dogger is in place.
  • Provide workers with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Ensure safe systems of work are in place and adhered to, including a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) for any High Risk Construction Work (HRCW).

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