Metal fabrication business fined $90,000 (plus $70,000 in costs)

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A company engaged in fabricating, maintaining and repairing mining equipment has been fined $90,000 after a labour hire worker was killed in its metal fabrication workshop.

RCR Mining Pty Ltd was found guilty in August of failing to provide and maintain a safe workplace for two labour hire workers, and causing the death of one of them, in the Perth Magistrates Court, and was fined $90,000 this week.  RCR Mining was also ordered to pay $70,000 in costs.

In October 2010, two labour hire boilermakers were engaged in fabricating a cylindrical rotary cooler – a large cylindrical metal sleeve around four metres in diameter - at RCR Mining’s premises in Welshpool.

As part of the fabrication process, there was a need to ensure that the rotary cooler was completely cylindrical, and for that process a large piece of equipment known as an adjustable spider was used.

The spider consisted of a central housing with six metal legs approximately two metres in length radiating out from it.  It was inserted into the rotary cooler and the legs adjusted until a true circle was produced inside the cylinder.

The spider was supported from above by chains connected to a crane, and the two men were using an elevating work platform (EWP) to access and tighten the upper legs of the spider until an RCR employee took the EWP for another job.

Without the EWP, the men had to rotate the cylinder to access the legs, and disconnected the chains so they would not tangle.  They thought the spider was securely placed in the cylinder because they had already wound out its other legs.

However, it was not secure, and when the cylinder was rotated the spider fell from the cylinder onto one of the boilermakers, fatally injuring him.

Neither of the men had ever used a spider before, and RCR Mining had neither trained them to perform the task nor ensured that they completed an appropriate risk assessment before performing it.  They did not realise that the spider could not be adequately secured by winding out its legs alone, without welding it into place.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch said today the case was a prime example of not having a safe system of work in place and not providing workers with adequate training in a particular task.

“The court found there was no procedure in place that required a spider being used in a vertical position to be continually attached to a crane until it had been securely attached to the cylinder,” Mr McCulloch said.

“In this case, the spider had not been securely attached and, tragically, the workers performing the task for the first time did not realise that.

“The spider fell from the cylinder after the chains holding it to the crane were removed and the cylinder was rotated.

“This case is a sad reminder of the crucial importance of ensuring that the workplace is a safe one and that workers are adequately trained, instructed and supervised, and that risk assessments are properly carried out for hazardous tasks.”

Further information on keeping workplaces safe can be obtained by telephoning WorkSafe on 1300 307877 or on the website at www.worksafe.wa.gov.au.

Media contact: Caroline De Vaney 6251 2363 or 0408 927563 (media enquiries only)

caroline.devaney@commerce.wa.gov.au

Follow @WorkSafeWA on Twitter

WorkSafe
Media release
04 Dec 2015

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