QLD worker injured by falling piling rig component

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of members. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Tuesday, 9 July, 2019 - 14:15
Incidents & prosecutions

A worker in Queensland recently suffered serious crush injuries to his legs and head lacerations when part of a drill head on a piling rig fell on him.

Early inquiries indicate two workers were preparing drilling components to fit to the piling rig while it was turned off.

For reasons yet to be established, the drill casing fell without warning and struck one of the workers.

In a separate incident, also in May 2019, part of a piling rig fell approximately 35 metres to the ground narrowly missing a worker.

Early inquires indicate the operator of the piling rig was attempting to relocate the rig to another location and was experiencing difficulties in moving it when the component fell to the ground. There were no reported injuries.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland said the risk of serious injury is increased when mobile plant, such as a piling rig is operated close to workers.

PBCUs must manage the risks associated with the setup, operation, inspection and maintenance of piling rigs and associated equipment. This includes:

  • Setting up the piling rig correctly, and operating it in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Correctly installing any attachment devices on the piling rig (such as drill heads, augers and hammers) in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Conducting pre-operational checks on the piling rig and any associated equipment prior to each work shift
  • Regularly inspecting all components of the piling rig to ensure they are within the tolerance specified by the manufacturer
  • Carrying out routine inspections and maintenance in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Maintaining exclusion zones and ensuring that unauthorised people are kept away from the plant and associated equipment. Exclusion zones should be equal to the maximum radius envelope of the plant where practicable (i.e. The maximum extension of a boom from any tipping point on the plant) plus, an additional allowance for inadvertent movement of the plant or people
  • Keeping the travel path of the mobile plant solid, level and clear of any obstacles, debris and steps.

PCBUs must ensure a safe work method statement (SWMS) has been prepared for any high-risk construction work associated with piling rigs prior to the work commencing and that high-risk construction work is carried out in accordance with the SWMS.

PCBUs must also ensure the operator is competent for the specific item of plant. Workers can demonstrate their competency with a verification of competency (VOC) for a piling rig.

On average each year, 71 workers’ compensation claims are accepted for crush injuries from mobile plant in the construction industry, and just over half are serious injuries involving five or more days off work.

Since 2013, there have been 114 incidents involving mobile plant in the construction industry.