Background

Recently at a precast concrete facility, a 7-tonne precast concrete wall panel fell from a truck-mounted A-frame after being loaded onto the truck by a bridge crane.

The panel had been connected to the crane with a 2-legged chain and only 1 chain had been disconnected from the panel. As the crane travelled away from the A-frame the panel was dragged off, causing it to fall to the ground. One side of the panel was then suspended from the chain that was still attached to the crane.

Workers were in the vicinity of the panel when it fell and could have been crushed and seriously injured or killed.

Safety issues

Precast panel facilities are often under pressure to load concrete panels quickly to meet industry demands.

Although no one was injured in this incident, a panel falling during loading puts workers at risk of serious, or even fatal, injuries. Workers can be working next to the trailer, installing chains and assisting with the loading of the panel.

At the time of the incident:

  • the panel was not temporarily restrained to the A-frame before the crane began moving away
  • the crane operator didn't have line of sight of the dogger or the panel before the crane started moving
  • communication with the dogger wasn't maintained using verbal or hand signals or other methods.

Recommended ways to control risks

  • Maintain a system of work to ensure a concrete panel is securely restrained during loading, to prevent the panel from dislodging, collapsing or falling.
  • Restrict access to the loading zone during loading.
  • Loading should take place on firm level ground.
  • Prime movers should be hooked up to the semi-trailer and also be stabilised by lowering the support legs onto a firm base prior to loading.
  • Ensure appropriate chains and dogs (eg ratchet and turnbuckle dogs) are used to secure the panel(s) during both loading and transport.
  • Ensure appropriate lifting equipment is used, which should be referenced in the shop drawing.
  • Maintain communication between the crane operator and the dogger to help ensure that the crane does not move away prior to the lifting equipment being disconnected from the panel.
  • Ensure equipment is inspected and maintained.
  • Allow enough time for safe loading.
  • Ensure workers are inducted, trained, competent and licensed (where required) for the work being undertaken and supervised as necessary.
  • Ensure a documented procedure is in place for loading of precast panels. Where the work is high risk construction work, employers must ensure a safe work method statement has been prepared and work is performed in accordance with the statement.

Legal duties

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act), employers must, so far as reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to the health of employees. This includes identifying risks to health or safety and eliminating or reducing those risks, so far as is reasonably practicable.

Employers must, as far as is reasonably practicable, provide or maintain plant or systems of work that are safe and without risks to health.

Employers must provide employees the necessary information, instruction, training or supervision to enable them to do their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health

Employers must also ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that other people are not exposed to risks to their health or safety arising from the employer's conduct.

Employees must take reasonable care of their own health and safety and that of others who may be affected by their acts or omissions at a workplace.

Further information

  • Australian Standard: AS 3850 – 2015 Prefabricated concrete elements, part 1 and 2
  • VicRoads: Guide to restraining concrete panels and beams, January 2013
  • WorkSafe: Precast and tilt-up concrete for buildings: Industry standard 
  • WorkSafe: Precast and tilt-up concrete construction

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