|Offender||Salini Australia Pty Ltd (ACN 158 955 885)|
|Charge||Charge Number||Offence Date||Date Convicted||Regulation||Section||Penalty Provision||Penalty Imposed||Date Sentenced|
|1||PE30944/2020||20 October 2017||16th October 2020||19(1) 19A(2)||3A(3)(b)(i)||$150,000.00||27th November 2020|
|Description of Breach(es)||
Being an employer, failed so far as practicable to provide and maintain a working environment in which employees of the employer were not exposed to hazards, and by that failure caused serious harm to an employee; contrary to sections 19(1) and 19A(2) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.
The Forrestfield Airport Link (FAL Project) is a project to construct a new railway service to the eastern suburbs of Perth. The FAL Project includes the construction of two tunnels from Forrestfield to Bayswater and three new train stations at Forrestfield, Airport Central and Redcliffe.
The Accused is the main contractor for the FAL Project.
The Bayswater portion of the FAL Project was divided into two separate sites. One was on the north side of the Midland railway line (North Site), and one on the south side of the Midland railway line (South Site).
The Accused employed a site supervisor for the North Site, and a site supervisor for the South Site.
On the South Site there was to be constructed a dive structure (an underground, open-air structure which leads towards the tunnel portal) for the FAL Project at the corner of Whatley Crescent and Newton Street.
At the time of the offence, the South Site was being established and ground preparation was being undertaken.
Live overhead power lines transmitting 132,000 volts ran across the South Site at a height of approximately 13 metres.
Installation of camera poles
During the afternoon of 20 October 2017 South Site supervisor radioed a rigger (the rigger) on the North Site, and requested he organise the crane crew and the 25 tonne Franna crane (Crane) from the North Site to bring over to the South Site to carry out a task.
The task was for the crane operator, the rigger and the victim (Crane Crew) to relocate and install a time-lapse camera pole measuring approximately 10 metres in length on top of a concrete block.
The camera pole was being installed to monitor the progressive construction works.
The crane operator drove the Crane around to the South Site. The rigger and the victim (who was also a rigger) drove over in a car.
The rigger and the victim had been working since 6:30am at the North Site, and the crane operator had been working since approximately 9am at the North Site prior to them all arriving at the South Site at approximately 4:00pm.
None of the Crane Crew regularly worked at the South Site. On that day they were there to undertake a singular one-off task.
None of the Crane Crew had received an induction specific to the South Site.
The South Site Supervisor told the rigger and the victim where to position the concrete block on which to stand the camera pole. He assisted the Crane Crew in positioning the concrete block but left the site before the Crane Crew rigged up the camera pole.
None of the Crane Crew noticed, received any information about, or were made aware of the overhead power lines.
The usual standard height above ground of overhead power lines is much lower than 13 metres.
In order to complete the task, the crane operator was operating the Crane.
With the assistance of the rigger and the victim, the crane operator first used the Crane to move the concrete block in to position. The Crane returned in order to lift the camera pole in order to place it on top of the concrete block.
The victim slung a lifting sling around the camera pole and the rigger tied a tag line to the lifting sling.
It would have been possible to carry the camera pole horizontally from its position approximately 20 metres to the concrete block, but it was lifted vertically. This was because none of the Crane crew were aware of the overhead power lines, and carrying the pole vertically meant that the Crane Crew would not have to re-sling the camera pole in order to erect it on top of the concrete block.
The crane operator was being directed by the rigger as the Crane lifted the camera pole.
The crane operator then reversed the crane back and stopped the Crane under the direction of the rigger, before moving the Crane forward with the camera pole towards the positioned concrete block. The afternoon sun was out and the crane operator was facing the sun from this position.
As the Crane was moving forward with the camera pole towards the concrete block, the victim was on the ground holding the camera pole and tag line to stabilise the load.
The rigger was walking towards the concrete block and had his back to the victim and the Crane.
At that moment, the boom of the Crane came into contact with, or within very close proximity to the overhead power lines, causing an electrical flashover to occur. There was a loud sound and the victim was propelled through the air and fell to the ground.
The victim felt electricity go through him and a burning sensation. His hands and legs curled up from muscle spasms.
The rigger turned around and saw the victim lying on the ground. The rigger looked up and at this point in time realised the presence of the overhead power lines.
Western Power personnel attended the Workplace soon after the incident and isolated the overhead power lines.
As at the date of the incident, the overhead power lines had been scheduled for relocation away from the South Site in the coming weeks.
The victim was taken by ambulance to Royal Perth Hospital, before being transferred to the burns unit at Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH). He sustained major electrical burns to 38% of his total body surface area, including to his groin and genitals, both legs and feet, trunk and left arm and was an in-patient at FSH for three weeks.
The victim underwent multiple operations for skin grafts and surgical release of contractures. His burns have reduced his range of motion and flexibility.
The victim also suffered severe psychological distress which has since been diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder. He has required significant on-going specialist treatment, including physiotherapy, laser treatment, occupational therapy and psychotherapy as a result of the injuries he sustained.
The victim has been left with permanent physical and psychological damage and has not been capable of returning to his previous employment. As of May 2020, the victim was not medically able to work more than 14 hours per week.
Knowledge of the hazard
The Accused was aware of the overhead power lines and the dangers inherent in working in the vicinity of overhead power lines. This is evident in that the Accused had, prior to the incident, developed a procedure entitled Overhead Power Risk Management Procedure (the Risk Management Procedure) and an instruction entitled Working in the Vicinity of Overhead Electrical Installations.
At the time of the incident, the Risk Management Procedure listed a 3 metre minimum approach distance for overhead power lines of a voltage of 132,000 volts.
It should be noted that is an offence under regulation 3.64 of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 for any person who, at a workplace, is an employer, the main contractor, or a person having control of the workplace to fail to ensure that an employee or any plant or material used or controlled by an employee does not enter within 6 metres of a live overhead power line of a voltage exceeding 33,000 volts.
In any case, none of Crane crew had ever seen the Accused’s Risk Management Procedure or the Accused’s instruction entitled Working in the Vicinity of Overhead Electrical Installations. The crane crew were not directed to have regard to these documents.
Following the Incident
Soon after the incident, administrative controls were adopted by the Accused at minimal expense to identify the 132,000 volt overhead power lines by erecting warning signs about the overhead power lines and positioning visual flagging indicators.
The Accused’s Risk Management Procedure was also amended to list the minimum approach distance for 132,000 volt overhead power lines as 6 metres.
The overhead power lines were relocated away from the South Site soon after the incident.
This relocation could have occurred, or the overhead power lines could have been isolated, prior to the task of moving and erecting the camera pole on the South Site on 20 October 2017. Alternatively, the task could have been postponed until the overhead power lines had been relocated. All that was required was for the Accused to make the appropriate arrangements with Western Power. Western Power regularly isolates overhead power lines on construction sites for safety reasons when given adequate notice by builders such as the Accused.
Alternatively, the Accused could have obtained a Vicinity Authority Permit from Western Power for this task, which would have enabled the Crane Crew to conduct their work near the overhead power lines under Western Power’s direct supervision on site.
The accused pleaded guilty and was convicted on 16 October 2020. On 27 November 2020 the Magistrate fined the Accused $150,000 and ordered costs of $3000.
|Court||Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Perth|
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