Concrete piling company fined after worker suffers crushed arm
A concrete piling company has been fined $60,000 in the Southport Magistrates Court for breaching section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (The Act) after a worker’s arm was crushed while cleaning a concrete pump at a site at Biggera Waters on the Gold Coast.
The worker sustained various injuries, including a subtotal amputation of his left hand.
Following the incident, he was hospitalised for one month during which he underwent multiple operations.
Workers for the company routinely cleaned out pumps as part of their normal duties. Each pump contains a manual dump valve that can release pressure to assist in the cleaning process.
Unfortunately, none of the workers on site had been trained in how to manually exhaust the pressure and did not know how to use the valve.
On 26 November 2018, the worker was attempting to remove a build-up of concrete underneath the swing tube of the pump using water pressure without success.
He then decided to lift the hopper grate of the pump, got inside the hopper, and began using a hammer to release the concrete manually.
During this task, he asked a co-worker to move the swing tube resulting in the crushing of his arm.
After the incident, the company modified the pump to ensure that any accumulated hydraulic pressure was automatically released when the hopper grate was opened.
The Court held that the company had failed to adequately train workers, failed to ensure that cleaning operations of the pump were done in accordance with the Concrete Pumping Code of Practice, and failed to implement adequate engineering controls to exhaust the hydraulic pressure.
In imposing a fine of $60,000 on the construction company, Magistrate Louisa Pink noted the defendant’s timely early guilty plea, their documented systems, and improvements made since the incident.
No conviction was recorded.
For queries about safety, dealing with inspectors, or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 0417 622 178, 100 WAL LAW or via email to email@example.com
Disclaimer: This information is provided as general advice on workplace relations and employment law. It does not constitute legal advice, and it is always advisable to seek further information regarding specific workplace issues. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.