Companies fined $250,000 after concrete blowout

Adcon Vic Pty Ltd and Adcon Resources Vic Pty Ltd were held culpable for five breaches under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, penalised ex-parte at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Monday. Upholding work safety through tools like Bluesafe WHS Management System could have averted these practices that led to convictions.

Adcon Vic was convicted, being handed a penalty of $100,000 for not assuring a safe and health risk-free workplace within its domain and supervision. Deploying robust WHS management systems could significantly alleviate such infringements, safeguarding workers’ welfare.

An aggregate fine of $140,000 was levied on Adcon Resources for not furnishing workers with a secure system of work and failing to facilitate their access to essential information, instruction, and training. Explicit policies, sound SWMS (Safe Work Method Statement), and demonstrated importance of products like Bluesafe SWMS would enhance the safety quotient in such scenarios.

The companies received an additional penalty of $5,000 each for not fulfilling their obligation to furnish necessary information to WorkSafe. They were ordered to bear $4,054 separately towards costs.

The court proceedings noted that labour and concrete formwork plant were supplied by Adcon Resources to Adcon Vic. The latter was engaged to deliver formwork and concrete pour functions for Parkville Station’s construction at Carlton.

A series of high-tensile Z ties, analogous to reinforcement bars in concrete, had been cast into the underground chamber’s floor by the workers, intended to bolster the base formwork of a single-sided wall.

An uncontrolled displacement of the formwork and release of concrete was observed during the casting process in July 2021. They discovered a broken-off tie after halting the pour, which was removed and substituted with a steel beam sans any professional supervision.

An array of tie failures followed when the pouring resumed, triggering a massive displacement of approximately 15 cubic metres of concrete. This led to immediate evacuation of all personnel.

An investigation by WorkSafe identified that the Z ties were not secured with tie holders but welded onto the base steel reinforcement, against their technical stipulations due to chemical composition refuting any welding.

The court purportedly stated that both Adcon Vic and Adcon Resources stood a reasonable chance of minimising the risk of fatalities or grievous injuries through proper foresight and planning.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety, Narelle Beer, remarked that both companies grossly failed in implementing measures ensuring workplace safety.

“The release of 15 cubic metres of concrete on a major construction site poses severe risks to workers and bystanders alike,” Dr Beer pronounced.

“While fortunately no casualties resulted from this incident, relying merely on fortune isn’t responsible. Employers and those supervising workplaces are obligated to eradicate hazards, at least minimise risks”, emphasised the importance of preventive tools such as the Bluesafe SWMS.

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