Australian rental company Clark Cranes has been fined $400,000 following a tragic incident in September 2018, in which a fully loaded 1.5 cubic metre concrete bucket fell from one of its tower cranes on the site in the Box Hill suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, killing a man and leaving another, 28, with life changing paralysis.
The failure was caused by a missing split pin that normally retains a castellated nut on the end of the shaft/pin on the hoist cable termination fitting. Without a split pin the critical nut was able to gradually loosen and - one assumes - drop off, which in turn enabled the shaft /bolt to work it's way out of the clevis in the hoist rope termination assembly, allowing the load to freefall onto those working below.
Clark Cranes was found guilty of breaching one critically important occupational health and safety law in a jury trial, which found the company guilty of ‘failing to ensure equipment was safe and without risk’. Clark had imported, commissioned and installed the new Raimondi crane on the multi-storey apartment block development almost three months earlier.
The judge noted the company was not charged with the death of Shaun Burns or injuries to his colleague. He also said: “Measures were available to Clark Cranes to address the risk, including examining the bolt at the time the crane was received, or installed at the work site, and inserting a new pin if one was missing or replacing it if the pin was faulty. But there was evidence that such an inspection was not industry practice, and it would be reasonable for Clarke Cranes to expect quality assurance practices had been adhered to by the manufacturer, Raimondi Cranes.”
“While the likelihood of an incident occurring because of a missing or improperly fitted split pin was low, the risk of death or serious injury arising from a failure of the rope hoist termination assembly was high. Such a failure was likely to occur when the crane was in operation, at a time when the site was occupied. As the incident of September 6th demonstrates, the likely outcome would be catastrophic. I am satisfied the company knew, or should have reasonably known, that the bolt was critical to the safe operation of the crane and that it would have been obvious to a competent person that the split pin was an essential safeguard.”
However, he also pointed out Clark's professionalism and good safety record, describing the company as a good corporate citizen that had taken substantial steps since the incident to ensure a similar tragedy did not occur. The maximum fine for the offence was $1.42 million.