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January 2020

Pinned worker’s injuries preventable

Pinned worker’s injuries preventable

Worksafe Victoria v Jeld-Wen Glass Australia Pty Ltd (May 2018)

Facts

Jeld-Wen Glass Australia Pty Ltd (the Company) operates a glass processing factory in Rowville, south-east Melbourne. On 9 August 2016, an employee was using a crane to move large glass blocks to a storage rack. The blocks were removed from containers for processing at the factory by an oscillating side-loading grab suspended under an overhead crane.

Two employees were moving a 2-tonne block of glass for processing using the grab.

One employee was operating the crane (the crane operator) while the second employee was responsible for manually attaching and removing the grab’s arms and feet to the load.

The crane operator positioned the glass on a storage rack and the second employee removed the arms. However, the feet of the grab became stuck underneath the rack. When trying to remove the grab feet, the glass block swung out and pinned the second employee by his right foot and left leg between the glass block on the grab and another block of glass that was stored on a rack behind him.

It took emergency services 2 hours to free the employee.

Judgment

The Court determined the Company had failed to ensure that the crane had a safety lifting system to warn employees when the crane was in operation or an interlock device to stop the crane from operating when the feet and arms of the grab were disengaged.

As a result, there was a risk of serious injury or death to employees using the crane to move glass blocks without a safety lifting alert system or an interlock in place.

The Company pleaded guilty, was not convicted but was fined $40,000 with costs of $4,725.

Lessons

Worksafe Victoria identified that a safety lifting alert system or an interlock could have prevented the incident from occurring, both of which were simple remedial measures that the Company failed to implement.

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