Mobile crane company charged over serious crush injury

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Wednesday, 25 January, 2023 - 12:45
Incidents & prosecutions
Northern Territory

A mobile crane hire company in Darwin has been charged over a serious incident in which two workers suffered crush injuries.

In February 2019, A.M. Cranes & Rigging was hired to transport and position an electrical switchboard weighing approximately 1.8 tonnes into a newly constructed switchboard room at the Palmerston Police Station.

A crane was used to lift the switchboard partially into the switchboard room before it was placed onto four load skates. Three workers then attempted to manually manoeuvre the switchboard over a cable pit covered by checker plate. During the manoeuvre, the switchboard toppled backwards pinning two of the workers.

An A.M. Cranes & Rigging worker suffered moderate soft tissue injuries and was freed by other workers at the site.

The second worker, who was employed by another company, suffered serious head injuries and required emergency services personnel to rescue him.

A.M. Cranes & Rigging is facing two charges under the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011 (the Act), and if found guilty the company faces a maximum penalty of $1.5 million for each charge.

NT WorkSafe’s investigation found A.M. Cranes & Rigging did not have a safe system of work in place despite the high risk of serious injury or death if the switchboard toppled.

NT WorkSafe alleges A.M. Cranes & Rigging should have reasonably known the dimensions and centre of gravity of the switchboard meant the likelihood of the switchboard toppling was very high and placing the switchboard onto load skates to move increased the risk of it toppling.

NT WorkSafe will also allege the dimensions of the switchboard room in relation to the switchboard meant, workers manually manoeuvring the switchboard were always in its fall radius and at serious risk of being crushed or pinned if the switchboard toppled.