News story

Fined for fatal crane incident

Thursday, 20 August 2009 ( #424 ) - Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
"When these things happen, it's not just 'bad luck' or a 'freak accident'," says WorkSafe executive director, John Merritt.
Roller door manufacturer B&D Australia was fined AUD300,000 last week by the Melbourne County Court after pleading guilty to two OHS Act charges as a result of an incident which occurred in November 2006.

A husband and father of two young children, Mervyn Jacobs, was lifting a seven-metre tube when it fell and killed him at Kilsyth in Melbourne's outer east.

The 350kg steel tube was to form the core of a roller door.

The incident triggered a safety improvement program at B&D Australia Pty Ltd's Kilsyth plant, with employees re-trained in the safe use of cranes.

However, WorkSafe Victoria's executive director, John Merritt, challenges employers not to wait for tragedy to strike before meeting safety obligations.

WorkSafe's investigation of the incident found the load was suspended by webbing slings hooked over the ends of an axle protruding from each end of the 7.5 metre long tube.

This meant the slings connecting it to the crane's hook were able to ride up and come off, possibly after hitting an object on a cupboard over which it was being moved.

"When these things happen, it's not just 'bad luck' or a 'freak accident'. In most cases, the problem has always been there, but the trap hasn't been sprung.

"The good news is that taking a practical and consistent approach to safety, reviewing every stage of the work process and the potential hazards, consulting the workforce and acting on identified problems makes a difference.

"This is an ongoing process. It's not something to do once and say 'job done'," says Merritt.

WorkSafe has produced a range of resources on safety with bridge and gantry cranes, including a guide and a poster covering lifting accessories.
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