A subcontractor which worked on the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing has been fined $50,000 for a mobile concrete pump which became unstable and tipped, putting workers at risk.
The company pleaded guilty in the Toowoomba Magistrates Court to breaching the (sections 32 and 19(1)) over the 15 August 2017 incident.
The defendant company was a subcontractor at the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing Site, having entered into an agreement with Nexus Delivery to supply a 60m mobile truck mounted concrete pump, and workers to operate it. The defendant provided a Job Safety and Environmental Analysis / Work Method Statement, which identified the hazards and risks, with specifications for Nexus Delivery to provide level firm ground for the set-up area.
The court heard the SWMS required the company to risk assess each set up and complete a number of checklists, which wasn’t done.
The pump was required for a pour on 15 August 2017 at a site on the project for which another contractor had initially been engaged. Nexus directed the pump supervisor for the defendant move the pump to the relevant site, which was prepared for the pour, including removing other plant and equipment from the area and an excavator widening the access. The defendant’s pump supervisor inspected the site but did not advise any managers that the pump was being relocated.
Three employees of the defendant company were involved in the movement and set up of the pump, with the outrigger legs being extended with plastic padding placed under the “feet” and timber dunnage under each outrigger foot and plastic pad. The operator manual noted that the axle of the truck should not be off the ground - it was in this case.
The employees commenced unfolding the boom when the unit became unstable and the front outrigger legs slipped off the timber dunnage, resulting in them digging into the ground. The pump was raised off the ground and the boom fell in a slow, but uncontrolled manner, onto a concrete outlet structure.
Magistrate Osborne noted the relevant risks had been identified and steps taken to eliminate them, and had the SWMS been followed, the incident would not have occurred.
His Honour accepted the risk of injury or death was low, given the slow speed with which the fall occurred and the fact that workers in the vicinity had been instructed to stay out of the area of the boom. He also accepted this was not a case of reckless indifference and the company had engaged in honest and diligent efforts to ensure its employees followed safe work practices.
In determining the $50,000 fine and more than $1500 costs, he took into account the defendant’s timely plea, lack of previous convictions, and immediate steps to remedy the systems it already had in place (including re-training staff and further refining SWMS within days of the incident). No conviction was recorded.
More industrial prosecutions are at www.owhsp.qld.gov.au