WA: companies fined $800,000 after worker crushed by industrial radiator

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.
Tuesday, 1 November, 2022 - 12:30
Incidents & prosecutions
Western Australia

Two companies have been fined a total of $800,000 over the death of a worker at a Welshpool factory in 2019.

L&M Radiator, a company that manufactures, services and repairs large industrial radiators, pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment and, by that failure, causing the death of an employee and was fined $500,000 (and ordered to pay $11,211.50 in costs) in the Perth Magistrates Court.

In the same court, Chain Applications, a company that supplies, maintains and inspects lifting and height safety equipment, pleaded guilty as a designer, manufacturer or supplier to failing to provide adequate information and thereby causing the death of the worker, and was fined $300,000 (and ordered to pay $9121.50 in costs).

In May 2019, a worker at L&M Radiator suffered fatal crush injuries when the lifting chains attached to a gantry crane failed, allowing a large radiator to fall to the floor and crush him between it and another radiator he was cleaning.

The radiator that fell was suspended by lifting chains attached to an overhead gantry crane, and passed close to the victim when being moved to another position. The base of the suspended radiator was about waist height from the ground.

The employee was working in an area that should have been identified and maintained as a designated exclusion zone when the lifting chains snapped and the radiator toppled onto the employee.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Darren Kavanagh said the case should serve as a reminder that exclusion zones should be implemented and strictly observed in workplaces that are likely to include suspended loads.

“The need for and use of exclusion zones around suspended loads is well known throughout industry, and really is simple common sense,” Kavanagh said.

“The magistrate found that the degree of risk at this workplace was significant given the heavy objects being lifted, and accepted that L&M could easily have implemented the practicable measures required to lessen that risk.

 “Chain Applications supplied the lifting chains at the L&M premises, and the magistrate found they should have informed L&M about when and how the chains could safely be used, and should have made it clear that care was needed in relation to corrosive environments such as those at L&M’s premises.

“The fact that neither L&M nor Chain Applications did everything practicable to ensure a safe workplace led to the tragic death of a worker and sizeable penalties for the two companies.”