Skip to content

Worker crushed by slewing crane

In May 2018, a dogger received serious crush injuries while working on a truck mounted crane. He was packing up the chains of the 60 tonne mobile crane when it slewed, trapping him between the counterweights and a toolbox mounted on the truck. Investigations are continuing.

Preventing a similar incident

Using a mobile crane on any worksite introduces the risk of collisions if sufficient clearances are not maintained around the crane. Collisions can be with other cranes, buildings, overhead powerlines, doggers, riggers and other workers on site.

In addition to sufficient exclusion zones, a reliable method of signalling between the crane operator and dogger is essential for safe crane operation. Failure to implement a reliable method of communication may lead to unsafe crane operation resulting in dropped loads or collisions.

An effective means of communication is particularly important where:

  • the crane operator cannot see the load
  • the crane operator cannot see the load's landing area
  • the crane operator cannot see the travel path of the load, crane or part of the crane (e.g. slewing counterweight)
  • the crane operator cannot see the dogger or other workers in the work area
  • the crane operator is not in a position to make an accurate judgement of distance
  • it is possible for the crane to come into contact with overhead powerlines.

While the dogger approaches the crane, the PCBU must have adequate procedures in place to ensure the crane is immobilised and the crane operator is aware of the dogger's location.


Each year since 2012, there has been an average 67 accepted workers' compensation claims for injuries caused by being crushed, pinned or trapped by mobile plant. A quarter of these were in the construction industry.

In the same period, there have been 650 incidents involving workers being crushed, pinned or trapped by mobile plant. Of these, 38 involved slewing-cranes where a person was either injured or exposed to the serious risk of injury. We issued 182 improvement notices and 125 prohibition notices for issues associated with being crushed by mobile plant.

Prosecutions and compliance

In 2016 a company was fined $120,000, following the death of a mobile crane operator. The unlicensed worker was instructed to shift steel products using the crane. While attempting this task, he was observed alongside the crane which was travelling, uncontrolled, down a slope. He either tripped or was struck, then was run over and killed by the crane.

Another company was fined $35,000 in 2016 after a worker was injured when he was crushed between pallets. He was kneeling down removing stock from a pallet when a forklift being operated by another person picked it up. The forklift continued to move forward crushing him against a second pallet and breaking his ribs.

More information

Support for people affected by a serious workplace incident

Have you been affected by a workplace fatality, illness or serious injury? For advice and support, visit our Facebook page or email