On 29 January 2015, Etschmann Engineering pleaded guilty in the Perth Magistrates Court to failing to design a crane for use at a mine in accordance with the appropriate Australian Standard after it modified the crane design to reduce the thickness and weight of boom support plates.
The Company was prosecuted by the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) following an incident in April 2013. The 80 tonne crane was undergoing load testing at the Karara iron ore mine when the boom folded in half and dropped the load five stories to the ground, damaging a building and narrowly missing nearby workers.
The Company was fined $16,000 and ordered to pay $5,000 in court costs for breaching the mine safety regulations.
Following the incident (and another which occurred at Karara two months later), the DMP commenced extensive investigations on crane operations and other issues across mine sites in the mid-west of the State. Andrew Chaplyn, State Mining Engineer at the DMP, commented that “safety in design is one of the major areas of concern identified by the department.”
This decision marks the first time the Western Australian work health and safety regulator has prosecuted a plant designer for unsafe design. It serves as an important reminder to those involved in plant design of their duties under work health and safety legislation and supporting regulations.
If you have any queries regarding your occupational health and safety obligations, please contact HR Legal.
This article was produced by HR Legal. It is intended to provide general information only in summary format on legal issues. It does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on as such.