Vic transport company fined after worker suffers electric shock
Transport company Malina Enterprises Pty Ltd has been convicted and fined $75,000 after a worker suffered an electric shock when a mobile crane struck overhead powerlines at a Dromana construction site. The company pleaded guilty to a single charge of failing to ensure plant exposed to an electrical hazard was not used in a manner that was likely to trigger such hazards. The company was ordered to pay costs of $6731.
In April 2021, the injured worker was tasked with delivering prefabricated roof trusses to the worksite in a truck that had a vehicle-mounted crane, which was operated via lever controls on the side of the truck. On arrival the worker, who was unaccompanied and had not prepared a Safe Work Method Statement, positioned the vehicle in a No Go Zone of overhead powerlines.
While he was operating the crane without a spotter, the jib of the crane hit the 22 kV powerlines, throwing him to the ground. The worker was taken to hospital and placed in an induced coma; he continues to suffer ongoing effects from his injuries.
Malina Enterprises had previously made deliveries to the worksite but the injured worker had not been told where to park the truck in order to unload safely. WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said the incident could have been avoided if the worker was given clear instructions about making deliveries to the site. Beer said that lack of proper safety planning, training, communication and the absence of a Safe Work Method Statement for high-risk work are known to place workers at risk of serious injury or death.
“This incident could so easily have cost this worker his life and is a stark reminder that employers, large and small, must ensure they are doing everything possible to reduce the risk of workers being injured,” Beer said.
To avoid contact with powerlines, employers and contractors using trucks and other mobile plant are advised to identify all powerlines onsite and at site entrance or exit points. WorkSafe Victoria also advises that employers and contractors should comply with the No Go Zone rules and spotter requirements when operating mobile plant around powerlines. Weather conditions should be monitored closely, as powerlines can sag in extreme heat and sway in strong winds. Employers and contractors should also be aware that powerlines are more difficult to see at dawn and dusk.
Travel paths and loading and unloading areas should be designated well away from powerlines, with warning signs or other visual indicators installed on each side of the powerline to warn operators and drivers. Employers and contractors should consider the type and height of heavy vehicles, plant and machinery and if it can safely operate near the powerlines. Drivers and operators should also be made aware of the risks of powerlines onsite, and the controls in place to prevent hitting the powerlines. If routinely working near powerlines, employers and contractors should consider engineering controls such as presence sensing systems that can detect powerlines and interlock plant movements. Employers and contractors should also consult with workers on safe systems of work for operating near powerlines.
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