Update on the Box Hill tower crane incident
It has been barely a week since the fatal tower crane incident at Box Hill in Melbourne and we have now managed to corroborate and confirm information from a number of sources to a level where an update to what went wrong is meaningful.
We should state that the investigation is ongoing, although Worksafe has already issued a clear statement on the underlying cause of the incident.
We do know that the manufacturer Raimondi dispatched a small team of factory engineers to Melbourne as soon as news broke, to join Worksafe in the investigation. We have also heard that the company has updated its dealers around the world on any lessons that might be learnt from the findings so far. However, at the moment it is declining to comment on the investigation until it has been concluded and the full report released.
From what we have learnt the cause appears to be related to a missing lock nut split pin on the hoist cable termination fitting, which allowed the critical nut to gradually loosen and eventually come off, releasing one end of the hoist rope and causing it to drop the hook and the load into the construction site. Whether the legs of the split pin were not properly spread, orit somehow sheared, or it was not inserted in the first place we do not know. The crane was new and this was its first job, but it had been on site for a while.
Other than the hoist rope retention, we also understand that the crane has been given a clean bill of health and was in perfect working order.
Following the incident, the owner of the crane - Clark Cranes – stood down its entire Raimondi fleet and subjected them to thorough inspections. They have now been returned to service.
This is a tragic incident that has taken one life so far - that of Shaun Burns, 48 - and totally changed the life of another, while subjecting many others to serious trauma. All for one of the smallest, but most critical components on the crane.
While the investigation is ongoing and ordinarily we would wait for the official report, we feel that this incident presents such a critical and salutary reminder to others of how every component on a modern machine can play an important and even critical role, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. It also demonstrates how important it is to use the utmost diligence when installing, repairing or servicing such components. And if this causes just one person to double check something, or take another look, that might ultimately save a life, then it is right to publish.
Having said that the Australian authorities - as has often been the case - have been first class in the manner and speed in which they have handled this incident and investigation, while keeping everyone updated along the way See Worksafe statement on fatal Melbourne crane incident
. Their approach is a model that other organisations around the world would do well to learn from.
From unconfirmed anecdotal feedback it also appears that the manufacturer has also treated this incident in an exemplary manner, which is not always the case. It is at times like this that we really learn if our purchasing decision was a wise one or not.
We will of course update further when we see the official and final report or learn more.