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Employer blamed for explosion severely injuring machine operator

Crane SafeWork NSW
Crane (Courtesy SafeWork NSW)

A worker was not responsible for multiple wounds he suffered when heavy equipment suddenly blew up.

Safe Work Australia recently penalised D Caelli Cranes for inadequately protecting employees from workplace hazards.

The Victorian employer had planned to relocate kiln exhaust fans into a shed and weighbridge sections about 500 metres further down the driveway at an Austral Bricks facility back in November 2018. However, one crane unsafely came into contact with 22,000 volt overhead powerlines, at a right-angle to the driveway, which electrified the machinery and exploded one tyre.

Dangerous shrapnel sprayed across the work site, injuring one worker’s face, torso and leg.

“As the crane approached the overhead power lines, the partially extended boom made contact with the power lines. While the second employee approached employee one to check on his condition, the front right tyre of the crane exploded and sprayed employee two with shrapnel,” the Australian Institute of Health and Safety (AIHS) website site.

“The investigation revealed the task engaged by the offender of moving the weighbridge sections by crane, while being in close proximity to electrical assets, was deemed by the inspectors to be high-risk construction work.”

D Caelli Cranes was ordered to suspend all high-risk activities until a safe work method statement (SWMS) is completely reviewed and revised.

“There was an SWMS generated for the task but that it had not been reviewed or revised prior to the work being carried out. The SWMS did not address the risk the overhead power lines imposed during the task,” AIHS said.

The business was fined $18,000 and required to cover expenses totalling $11,232. No conviction was recorded.

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AMSJ April 2022