Worker loses foot after mobile crane incident

By Andrew Hobbs on January 12th, 2018
  1. Policies & Procedures
  2. Safe Operating Procedures


A SILO manufacturer has been fined $30,000 after a preventable accident where a mobile crane ran over an employee’s leg and crushed his foot, which later had to be amputated.

Lindsay F Nelson Manufacturing was also ordered to pay $3,430 in costs after pleading guilty to two charges of failing to maintain safe systems of work and failing to provide hazard and risk training under Victoria’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (2004).

Usual process posed real risk

The accident occurred in March 2016, when a worker was asked to walk alongside the crane that was being used to transport 12 sections of 6-10m long steel pieces, steadying the suspended steel with his hand to ensure the load did not rotate.

The Echuca Magistrates’ Court heard that the worker stumbled and fell, and the crane ran over his leg, crushing his foot and causing a fracture to his hip.

A WorkSafe Victoria investigation after the incident found that even though the worker had been with the company for 12 months, and was acting in line with the company’s usual procedures when he was injured, he had not received any instruction or training in relation to the hazards and risks associated with stabilising loads or working in close proximity to mobile plant.

The company also had no documented job safety assessments (JSA), safe work procedures, safe work method statements (SWMSs) or maintenance records in relation to the mobile crane.

Since the incident, the company has employed an occupational health and safety officer and created safe work documents. When performing these tasks, the company now employs a contractor or uses an overhead factory bridge crane in place of the mobile crane.

Call to employ industry procedures

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Marnie Williams said that asking a worker to stabilise a heavy load by hand was “appalling and totally unacceptable.”

“The company failed on many counts,” she said.

“It failed to train its workers and it failed to have appropriate safety processes in place – and followed – for high-risk work.”

In particular, WorkSafe Victoria recommends that businesses ensure that no workers are underneath or alongside a heavy load while it is being transported by crane.

“Be mindful of any workers out of the line of sight of the crane operator during an operation,” she said.

WorkSafe also recommends creating comprehensive safe work polices for each crane being used, considering environmental factors, and adapting these policies for different worksites and different machinery.

“Employers need to make sure every worker understands how and where machines will be used, particularly if multiple sites and equipment are involved,” Ms Williams said.

Reducing risks at your workplace

While your company might not use cranes as part of its operations, what other types of dangerous plant do you have that may expose workers to a safety risk?

Chapter C5 Construction in the Health & Safety Handbook says that a SWMS can be used to help reduce risks to workers because it is designed to identify high-risk activities and ensure that they are being controlled, rather than being a step-by-step guide on how work is to be performed.

SWMSs should be succinct and to the point, created in consultation with workers to identify hazards and find a way to control them.

It also recommends that companies conduct specific inductions for every new work site, because of the number of hazards that can exist at one time and the risk posed to large groups of workers undertaking different tasks.

Further information, about health and safety obligations in the construction industry and what to include in a work health and safety management plan are available in the chapter, one of more than 70 in the Health & Safety Handbook.

Click here to order your copy today.


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