Crane operator pleads guilty for overloading crane

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A crane operator has been fined $4,400 after he overloaded a crane, injuring a worker after it collapsed.

The operator pleaded guilty to failing to take reasonable care to avoid adversely affecting another person and was fined in the Perth Magistrates Court on Thursday.

The crane operator was working on a four-storey commercial building in Karratha when the incident happened. Concrete panels were being picked up from a rack using a crane and lifted over the top of the building.

The crane operator was aware that some of the lifts he was doing would be beyond the specific maximum capacity of the crane. According to an investigation, the worker overloaded the crane up to 135 percent of its lifting capacity on two occasions, activating a continuous alarm in the crane cabin and stopping the operation of the crane. He overrode the safety measures built into the crane.

The overloaded crane boom bent later on and collapsed while reaching over the building. The cable wire attached to the boom swung down and crushed the foot of a worker who was managing traffic under the path of the concrete slab.

The victim suffered serious injuries including multiple foot fractures, extensive lacerations, and loss of four toes.

“This case should be taken as a warning that inbuilt systems should never be ignored, disabled or overridden,” said WorkSafe WA Commissioner Ian Munns.

“Safety measures are there for a very good reason, and disregarding them exposes the operator to the risk of a serious incident taking place, as it did in this case.

“It was pure luck that the worker who was managing traffic under the crane load was not killed as he could have been if he had been struck in a different area of his body, for instance, his head.

Mr. Munns said the man was an experienced crane operator but did not follow written safety measures.

“Although he was only part of a collective decision not to move the crane to a safe operating location and to overload it, it was his responsibility to refuse to operate the crane outside of its specified lifting capacity.”

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