A metal fabrication company in Victoria was recently fined $15,000 after a 21-year-old apprentice boilermaker sustained a fractured pelvis and muscle damage after he was struck by a steel beam which was being lifted using a mobile crane.
On 30 January 2019, a supervisor at Central Victorian Welding & Fabrication tasked the worker and another employee crane operator with moving steel beams from their location outside on a concrete pad into the back of the shed at the workplace.
The distance was about 300 metres, and the beams were straight steel beams with cleats weighing about 900 kilograms each.
The worker was slinging the beams using a steel link multi-leg chain sling and was directing the lifts, and the employee crane operator was operating the crane which was a Terex Franna non-slewing mobile crane.
They were conducting the fourth beam lift when the incident occurred. The injured worker had slung the beam with the chains and directed the employee crane operator to lift the load.
They were using hand signals to communicate, and the employee crane operator began to lift.
It is believed that as the slack in the chain was being taken up as the load was lifted, the chain became caught in a cleat in the beam, causing the load to twist and become unbalanced.
The injured person stepped in towards the beam to attempt to rectify the situation. The beam slipped and struck him, knocking him to the ground, and the beam then fell on him, trapping him.
The crane was used to lift the beam off the injured worker, and he was taken to hospital by ambulance. His pelvis was fractured in two places and he sustained muscle damage to his right thigh and lower back.
The injured worker did not hold any high-risk work licences for dogging, rigging or operating cranes or forklifts, and he was not being supervised whilst carrying out the lifting works.
The company did not have any safe operating procedures or written systems of work in place for lifting and moving loads using plant at the workplace.
Following the incident, Central Victorian Welding & Fabrication developed comprehensive risk assessments and written systems of work for lifting, suspending and moving loads using plant at the workplace.
The company pleaded guilty and was, without conviction, sentenced to pay a fine of $15,000 and ordered to pay costs of $1,654.83.