Construction company convicted and fined for allowing crane to operate too close to power lines

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A construction company has been fined $24,000 for allowing a crane to operate near high voltage powerlines without carrying out the proper pre-work safety assessment.

The Preston-based company was found guilty of two charges under the 2004 OHS Act for failing to ensure persons other than employees were not exposed to health and safety risks and failing to ensure the means of entering the workplace were safe and without risks to health.

In August 2015, the company engaged a crane operator to lift a housing display unit onto the rear of a flatbed truck. The crane was parked directly under power lines and high voltage tram wires.

The court heard that the company had no Safe Work Method Statement for the work. It also did not conduct any risk assessment to ascertain the presence, type and operating voltage of overhead cables and tram wires. The company also failed to obtain the permission of the electricity supplier or the tram company before performing the lift.

“The risk of electrocution was high if the crane or the load had come into contact with the overhead lines. And given the incident location on a busy street, the company had also put at risk the lives of road users and pedestrians.”

Ms. Williams said the incident highlighted the risk of crane work and the importance of having safe systems of work in place at all times.

“WorkSafe’s dedicated construction teams are undertaking more site inspections than ever before. In 2016-17, these inspectors made more than 10,000 visits to construction sites across the state, and took almost 6000 compliance actions,” she said.

“Over the past three years, we have prosecuted more than 80 companies in the construction sector over their safety failings and they were fined a total of more than $5.6 million.

“Construction is a high-risk sector and the number of serious injuries and fatalities remains far too high. That is why we will continue to work with employers, unions and workers to improve safety, and to prosecute those who put their workers’ lives at risk.”

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