Qld subcontractor fined $50K for near-miss work incident

Tuesday, 20 October, 2020

Qld subcontractor fined $50K for near-miss work incident

A subcontractor working on the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing site has been fined $50,000 after a work safety incident in which a mobile concrete pump with a 60 m boom became unstable and tipped, putting workers at risk. The company pleaded guilty to breaching the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (sections 32 and 19(1)) over the 2017 incident.

The company entered into an agreement with Nexus Delivery to supply a 60 m mobile truck mountain concrete pump and workers to operate it. The defendant provided a Job Safety and Environmental Analysis/Work Method Statement (SWMS), identifying the hazards and risks, with specifications for Nexus Delivery to ensure level firm ground for the set-up area. The SWMS required the defendant to risk assess each set-up and complete a number of checklists, which was not done.

The incident occurred on 15 August 2017, when the pump was required for a pour at a site on the project. Nexus directed the pump supervisor for the defendant to move the pump to the relevant site, which was prepared for the pour. Other plant and equipment had been removed from the area and an excavator was used to widen the access. The defendant’s pump supervisor did not advise any managers from the company that the pump was being relocated.

Three employers from the defendant company were involved in the movement and set-up of the pump, with the outrigger legs extended with plastic padding under the ‘feet’ and timber dunnage under each outrigger foot and plastic pad. The operator manual noted the truck axle should not be off the ground, but it was in this case.

When employees unfolded the boom, the unit became unstable and the front outrigger legs slipped off the timber dunnage, resulting in them digging into the ground. The pump was raised off the ground and the boom fell in a slow, controlled manner onto a concrete outlet structure. In his sentencing, Magistrate Howard Osborne noted that the incident would not have occurred had the relevant risks been identified and steps taken to eliminate them.

Magistrate Osborne accepted the risk of injury or death was low, given the slow speed of the fall. Workers had also been instructed to stay out of the boom area. In determining the $50,000 fine and almost $1600 costs, Magistrate Osborne considered the defendant’s timely plea, lack of previous convictions and the defendant’s efforts to ensure its employees adhered to safe work practices. The defendant also took steps to remedy systems they already had in place, including retraining staff and further refining the SWMS. No conviction was recorded.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/sommersby

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