$450K FINE: CRUSHED WORKER 'VICTIM BLAMED'

Murray Construction has been fined $450,000 following an incident in which an 800kg excavator bucket fell from a truck, resulting in the fatal crushing of a worker.

Notably, the judge criticized the company's director for ‘victim-blaming’ the worker by suggesting it was the worker's responsibility to ensure their own safety. In a NSW court, it was revealed that the bucket had been loaded a few days earlier by another group of workers and had been placed on top of a concrete bridge beam, secured by chains.

A site supervisor noticed that the bucket was heavier on the passenger side and was at risk of falling when the chains were undone. One of the chains had already been untethered, and before the load could be slung, the remaining chain released, causing the bucket to fall 2.4 meters to the ground, fatally crushing one of the laborers.

The judge stated, 'A photograph of the bucket precariously perched on top of the concrete beam shows that this was an accident waiting to happen unless all appropriate precautions were taken.'

Murray had a safe work method statement for loading and unloading plant materials, which required loads to be stacked securely and exclusion zones to be in place before any activity occurred. However, there was no requirement that unstable loads, such as the bucket, be secured to a crane before the chains were released.

He added, 'The crane SWMS also did not stipulate that loads should remain secure until their weight is taken by the crane.'

SafeWork NSW v Murray Constructions Pty Ltd [2023] NSWDC 343 (31 August 2023)

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