In order to view all images, please register and log in. This will also allow you to comment on our stories and have the option to receive our email alerts. Click here to register

Suspended sentence for crane operator

A crane operator in Australia has been given a suspended prison sentence following a fatal crane incident in 2016.

The man, Michael Watts, pleaded guilty to breaching safe working practices which caused his articulated mobile crane to overturn on the construction site of a new hospital building at the University of Canberra, killing Herman Holtz, 62, on the 4th August 2016 click here for (‘Fatal Canberra crane overturn’).

The court heard of a number of safety errors leading up to the incident, including poor rigging and lighting and uneven terrain. It was also told that Watts overrode the crane’s overload warning alarm while pick & carrying an 11 tonne generator across the uneven site, resulting it its overturn. He was given a one year suspended sentence.
Please register to see all images

The crane overturned onto Herman Holz - ending his life

Evidence given during the trial suggested that Watts had warned against the fatal manoeuvre but was pressured into going ahead. We understand that a number of other charges are due to be heard, including against the construction company. The new building was designed and built by Brookfield Multiplex.


emailed comment
When I read this I thought of both men involved. The crane driver to me was experienced enough. The crane has two rams that steer it, and it indicates it was making a left hand. Turn down the slope. That would have brought any load past the left lifting ram which I have been taught you will roll over. The driver has also a percentage meter telling him at what decrees the crane is at. Now not knowing the driver or the dogmen or the man that got killed and the ground conditions, it will in most cases be the responsibility of crane driver first, then dogmen second who would have been walking on the ground. I’ve been on many sites and everything had to be done yesterday, and if you’re not good enough we will hire someone else.
Now everything put aside, I feel for everyone involved, it’s a pity it happened but accidents do happen, if you’re lucky someone may come along and see the danger and point it out to you, be grateful someone brought it to your attention. I still feel the weight he was carrying, the extension of boom , how far did he have the load hanging down , how was his rams extended, was the 4x4 engaged, low range, was auto, manual, diff locks in on that sort of ground.
In the end I know how much grief it gives you, so I give my condolences to the man that got killed.

Apr 22, 2020
This website is using cookies to provide an optimised user experience. By continuing you are agreeing to the use of cookies. More Info