A worker operating a tower crane on a Gold Coast building project has been fined $6500 over an incident in which a 290kg hook block fell from the top of the crane to the worksite below, narrowly missing a worker and a pedestrian.
The crane operator pleaded guilty in the Southport Magistrates Court this month to failing to comply with his duty to take reasonable care that he did not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons and exposed an individual to a risk of death or serious injury.
Three other people face charges over the incident, which the court heard could have been avoided if the deceleration limiter and an ultimate stop limiter (the limiting devices) had not been disconnected several weeks earlier.
A Workplace Health and Safety Queensland investigation found the operator had hoisted an unladen 18mm hoist rope and hook block of the crane at full speed and he did not slow the rising rope as it approached the top of the crane, resulting in the hook block impacting the hoist drum assembly mechanism at full speed. The force of the impact caused damage to the crane and parts of it to break and fall to the residential street below.
Apart from the near miss to the two people below, minor damage was caused to rooves and guttering of neighbouring residences.
The court heard the defendant was not involved in disconnecting the limiting devices, however, he had been made aware prior to commencing work that day that the limiting devices were not in use. There also was a reminder notation on a whiteboard in the driver’s cabin of the crane.
Magistrate Joan White had regard for the fact that the defendant acted without care whilst being aware the limiting devices weren’t operational, but also noted the operator was not the only person involved in the dangerous state of the crane. She took into account it was only the second day that the defendant had been operating the crane and it had been operated for seven weeks prior without the limiting devices installed.
In sentencing the defendant and imposing a $6500 fine with no conviction recorded, Magistrate White considered the defendant’s early plea, cooperation with investigations and lack of prior criminal history.
More prosecutions are at www.owhsp.qld.gov.au.