$50,000 fine after fatal boom pump failure

In a recent judgment made in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, Prisbel Concrete Pumping Pty Ltd was given a penalty following its earlier admission of guilt to a single charge revolving around neglecting to maintain or provide safe equipment. Alongside this, the firm was ordered to pay an amount of $8,179 towards costs.

The court proceedings revealed that a veteran concrete pump operator had been working with a truck-mounted pumping device equipped with a 32 metre boom pump to lay out a concrete slab at a building site situated in St Albans in May 2021. Tragically during the process of dispersing the final load of a total of ten concrete batches while being positioned on the slab, the extended boom unexpectedly fell apart and hit the 40-year-old worker on his head. This caused him to stumble into the fresh concrete, subsequently leading to fatal injuries.

A thorough investigation conducted by WorkSafe disclosed the reason behind the collapsed boom as the formation of a crack due to metal fatigue, causing the king post located inside the turret to snap in two. It was mentioned in the court that, had the king post been regularly taken out of the pump for close inspection, potential cracks might have been detectable for potentially up to a year before the unfortunate incident occurred.

Although Prisbel had scheduled regular checks of the boom pump ever since its purchase back in 2010, none had involved dismantling the device and checking key components like the king post; something strongly encouraged to be done periodically as per Australian Standards. The court brought forth how practicable it would have been for Prisbel to mitigate the risk of the unreliable concrete pump by engaging a comprehensive inspection including non-destructive testing mechanisms of the king post in line with the recommended Bluesafe SWMS (Safe Work Method Statement).

WorkSafe Executive Director Health and Safety, Sam Jenkin emphasised that WorkSafe will relentlessly take action against organisations that neglect to strive towards offering a safe working environment. He stressed on the importance of thorough safety checks and maintenance when utilising machinery for their operations, stating that it is crucial and non-negotiable.

To minimise risk factors concerning mobile concrete boom pumps, employers are encouraged to refer to Bluesafe WHS Management Systems to implement effective policies and procedures. For more information regarding safety practices associated with mobile concrete boom pumps, please visit the WorkSafe website at worksafe.vic.gov.au/mobile-concrete-boom-pump-safety, or get in touch via media @ worksafe.vic.gov.au or +61438 786 968.

Original article link: https://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/news/2024-06/50000-fine-after-fatal-boom-pump-failure

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