Another Crane Incident being investigated by NT WorkSafe

Crane safety has made the news once again following a workplace accident at a shipping yard at Darwin Harbour.  A shipping container was dropped and hit the deck of the vessel it was being loaded onto. From the article below on it appears that the incident was an example of operator error, read more about the incident:

NT-WorkSafe-logoThere has been a workplace accident that involved a crane this afternoon at a shipping yard located near the Duck Pond.

Whilst being loaded onto a ship in Darwin Harbour a shipping container reported to be carrying tonnes of steel fell and hit the deck of the vessel.

According to a report in the NT News, the operator of the crane attempted to load the 12.2 metre container into a small space but it hit an exposed hydraulic hose.

The hose was severed on impact and the crane as a consequence lost pressure.

Thomas Mayor, the Maritime Union NT organiser, said that this was the third time that this kind of accident had happened at the Darwin wharves in a two-year period.

He said that it was lucky that nobody was injured or killed when the container fell because there were people located in the danger zone at the time.

NT WorkSafe will be investigating the accident.

Workers in the above incident were lucky to escape uninjured however next time they may not be so fortunate. Although this occurred in a ship yard instead of a construction site, building industry workers can learn a few very important lessons from the incident.

Firstly anyone operating a crane should be trained and certified in crane operation and dogging. Workers who cannot present the necessary certificates should not be allowed access to the crane because inexperienced and untrained operators often drop loads, hit the crane arm into overhead power lines, hit into other workers etc. Deaths and injuries from cranes almost always occur at the hands of another worker.  Crane operation is not as easy as it looks, it is a complex task and accidents can be fatal.

As the above incident demonstrates, operators carry great responsibility and need to be aware of the danger zones on site. Danger zones are the areas where the operator may be hit by the load or the boom section of the crane and avoid entering the danger zones while operating the crane.  Operators are also responsible for monitoring the load stability and adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions in operating the crane.

Another important lesson to learn from this, is the need for exclusion zones to be set up wherever crane work is being undertaken to keep other workers on safe and out of harm’s way.

Goods should always be properly secured before lifted. Improperly secured loads are a common source of crushing because loads are large and heavy (on a construction site building materials, equipment and debris are some of the items lifted) so when they fall and hit workers below, they cause crushing injuries, some leading to death. While it is tempting to get the job done as quickly as possible, it only takes a split second for the load to slip and injure or kill a person below.


Crushed Worker Left Quadraplegic

Another tragic workplace accident has resulted in a worker being left a quadriplegic after he was crushed by equipment. The company paid a fine of $93,000 but the worker paid with much more. The incident occurred in 2010 when the man was trapped and crushed by a pallet stacking machine. Although the incident did not occur on a construction site, the industry can learn from it because heavy machinery is also a firm fixture on building sites.

Read this post on for more information:

Tatiara Seeds Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the state’s Industrial Court to failing to provide and maintain a safe workplace over the accident at Bordertown in February 2010.

A man employed to carry out maintenance and general labour work was trapped and crushed by the robotic palletising system, leaving him confined to a wheelchair for life.

The company admitted it was negligent in allowing a panel in the fence surrounding the compound so that employees could walk in and out without activating safety sensors that would prevent workers being struck, trapped or crushed by the moving parts of the machine.


There are a variety of machines and equipment on construction sites that can cause crushing injuries. Moving machinery in particular needs to be addressed. There are a few things construction workers and contractors can keep in mind in order to prevent workers suffering a similar fate to the worker who lost mobility in his legs in the incident at Tatiara Seeds.

The main safety factors to consider when pedestrians and moving machinery and equipment collide on a construction site are signage, separating pedestrians and vehicles, no-go zones, vehicles reversing, vehicle and pedestrian visibility.

  • Separate pedestrians and vehicles

Provide separate traffic routes for pedestrians and vehicles or securing these areas with barricades. Pedestrian walkways should be clearly marked and separate from other areas. Make sure walkways are not blocked keep them clear so that pedestrians don’t have to step onto the vehicle route. Also create no go zones for vehicles especially where there is a lot of foot traffic. Also don’t allow untrained or inexperienced workers to operate vehicles, machinery or equipment.  Employers should also limit the number of vehicles allowed onto a worksite.

  • Reversing of vehicles should be avoided

Although this is not possible on smaller sites, it should be aspired to. If not smaller sites should make use of reversing sensors, reversing cameras and mirrors and warning devices such as reversing alarms are vital. Drivers should be directed by a signaller who is wearing the appropriate visible clothing.

  • Ensure visibility of vehicles and pedestrians

Lighting, PPE and signs are all important elements in ensuring that vehicles are visible to pedestrians and vice versa.  Mirrors, reversing cameras and sensors that can help drivers see movement all around the truck. Visual warning devices such as flashing lights, reversing alarms and high-visibility markings should be fitted and operational on all machinery, vehicles and equipment.

Warning signs must be clearly and prominently displayed in well-lit areas to serve as a constant reminder to pedestrians of the hazard of traffic.  Traffic routes should be clearly sign posted to indicate restricted parking, visitor parking, speed limits, vehicle movement, height restrictions and other route hazards. Speed limits should also be enforced on construction sites.

By ensuring attention to the movement of vehicles and moving machinery/equipment on site many of the crushing incidents that we so often hear of, can be avoided.