Crane Engineering Company Fined for Mine Site Accident

Setting a legal precedent, the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) prosecuted the West Australian engineering company that designed a crane that collapsed in 2013 at a WA mining site, for designing a crane that did not meet the appropriate Australian standards. After pleading guilty in the Perth Magistrates Court to breaching Mines and Safety Inspection Regulations, the company was ordered to pay $16,000.

A design modification reduced the thickness of the plates that take the weight of the boom. This reduced the crane’s operational capacity, making it unsafe at the manufacturer’s 80 tonne capacity specification.

The 85-tonne crane plunged approximately five stories to the ground after the boom folded in half, narrowly missing workers, but damaging a building. The crane was being tested at 110 percent capacity at the time.

The prosecuting lawyer said that the crane designer is obliged to make it safe. The crane engineer’s defence lawyer pointed out that although the external verifier and the crane’s manufacturer were also obligated to ensure the crane’s safe operation, the engineering company accepted responsibility and paid $5000 in court costs.

A representative of the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) stated that safety in design is a major area of concern identified by the department. He said that this outcome is a watershed for DMP, as it is the first time that a designer has been prosecuted. He hopes that this will serve as a strong warning to other designers and mining engineers working in the mining industry, and particularly in Western Australia, that inferior services and negligence is not acceptable.

The DMP is currently investigating a crane at the Roy Hill mine that tipped over whilst being tested. DMP believes an inspector instructed the crane operator to override the crane computer while lowering the boom for inspection. This caused the boom to tip onto the ground.

Mining industry safety

The mining sector faces a variety of safety challenges. Working in some of Australia’s most remote and inhospitable locations, worker safety requires specialised equipment.

Mining operations often deal with hazardous substances, including chemical and corrosive liquids, which must be stored safely. It is important to buy the correct storage containment equipment for hazardous materials.

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