Crane operator fined following death of co-worker

Crane operator fined following death of co-worker

Crane operator fined following death of co-worker

The Beenleigh Magistrates Court has imposed a $25,000 fine against the operator of a mobile crane following the death of a co-worker at a worksite in Staplyton in 2021.

The operator, who was 62 at the time of the incident, had been employed by a company that manufactured, distributed and sold inground fibreglass swimming pools.

In evidence before Magistrate Shane Elliot, it was tendered that the operator had considerable experience, having worked for the company for over 5 years as a crane operator and 8 years in a similar role for another pool company. He was licensed to perform high-risk work, including the slewing of loads from a crane.

On 19 August 2021, he was operating a 1994 Franna 12-tonne mobile crane to sling a 650-kilogram fibreglass pool.

The co-worker was acting as a ‘dogman,’ which involved controlling the load with a tether line. After initially walking in front of the crane, he moved to the left as the crane reversed.

The crane then moved forward, striking him and knocking him to the ground without the operator’s knowledge. The crane drove over him and then reversed back on the lower part of the dogman’s body.

Two workers ran to attend to him, and despite applying first aid, he could not be revived.

The subsequent safety investigation revealed the company:

  • did not have a traffic management system;
  • did not have a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) or documented safety procedure;
  • failed to have procedures to cover exclusion zones.

The company also failed to train the dogman, did not have spotters in place, nor provided any form of communication between the operator and the dogger.

In a separate action, the company and its facility manager have been charged with industrial manslaughter.

The company also admitted earlier concerns with the crane operator after he had reversed into a parked car at the worksite three months earlier and had also been spoken to by colleagues who were concerned about his operation of the crane.

The operator accepted that he failed to take reasonable care for the health and safety of his co-worker.

In setting the penalty for the operator, Magistrate Elliot considered his early guilty pleas, remorse shown, advanced age and lack of prior convictions.

While acknowledging that due to the procedural failures of his employer, the incident was ‘an accident waiting to happen’, Magistrate Elliot still determined the operator was at fault, leading to the death of his co-worker.

A conviction was not recorded. The Magistrate did require the operator to pay professional and legal costs amounting to $1,500 and court costs of $101.40.

Our deepest condolences to all as we stop and reflect on the importance of safety first in all that we do.

Crane operator fined $25,000 following the death of a co-worker | owhsp

For queries about safety or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 0417 622 178, 1300 WAL LAW or via email to

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.

Ref: 427.0424

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