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Crane driver and coating business fined following 2015 fatality

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Crane driver Robert Poida and a Carole Park coating business he worked at have received hefty fines for their part in a 2015 workplace fatality.

The business owns an 8 tonne mobile yard crane and was prosecuted for the defective state of the crane and the danger it posed.

On 23 November 2015, Mr Poida, an employee of the business, was using the crane, which had defective brakes and lights, to shift a large steel pipe with another worker he was supervising. The defendant asked the other worker to help him by slinging the load and walking alongside it to steady the cargo. The pedestrian worker should not have been asked to carry out these tasks, as he was not a licensed dogman.

The defendant permitted his colleague to walk close to the crane’s left front wheel whilst steadying the load.

“Sadly, the helper was put in an unsafe position and run over by the crane,” Head of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland Dr Simon Blackwood said.

“The defendant should have used a tagline. One was available and he’d been trained in the safe work method statement.

“He should’ve also used an experienced spotter to ensure his helper was a safe distance from the crane.”

At a sentencing hearing in the Ipswich Magistrates Court on 22 June 2018, Magistrate David Shepherd accepted the risk to the pedestrian worker was obvious. His Honour also said it appeared there may be an issue that the defendant, who was a very experienced crane operator, had become too familiar with his duties and perhaps familiarity had a part to play in what he described as a serious breach of the Act. Magistrate Shepherd accepted that the defects on the crane did not directly cause the fatal incident and it occurred due to the poor work method used.

In making his decision, Magistrate Shepherd considered that as there had been a death, this outweighed the mitigating features of the defendant’s character reference, his previous clean safety record and an early guilty plea.

Mr Poida was convicted, fined $15,000 and ordered to pay court costs of almost $1,100.

A Workplace Health and Safety Queensland investigation into the tragedy revealed the business had systems in place for maintenance of plant, including an on-site mechanic and work-shop. However, the crane desperately needed mechanical repairs.

Magistrate Shepherd noted the risk of operating large mobile plant within the workplace was obvious and real, especially within a restricted area. He said there should’ve been adequate systems of maintenance, particularly as the crane’s defects weren’t obvious. His Honour also stated the duty holder had systems in place, but they weren’t followed even though there was a workshop and appropriate staff on-site.

After pleading guilty, the defendant was fined $50,000 and ordered to pay professional costs totalling $1,092.55. No conviction was recorded.

More information on industrial prosecutions is at worksafe.qld.gov.au.

Ends.

Media contact: oirmedia@oir.qld.gov.au or 0478 33 22 00.

Last updated
27 June 2018