$50,000 Fine After Fatal Boom Pump Failure

Prisbel Concrete Pumping Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court today after earlier pleading guilty to a single charge of failing to provide or maintain safe plant.

The company was also ordered to pay $8,179 in costs.

The court heard that the experienced concrete pump operator was using a truck-mounted pumping machine fitted with a 32 metre boom pump to pour a concrete slab at a St Albans construction site in May 2021.

As the 40-year-old pumped the last of 10 loads of concrete while standing in the slab, the extended boom suddenly collapsed and struck him on the back of his head, knocking him into the concrete and causing fatal injuries.

A WorkSafe investigation found that the boom collapsed as a result of a metal fatigue crack which caused the king post, inside the turret, to snap in half.

The court heard that cracks may have been detectable for a year or more prior to the boom snapping, had the king post been removed from the pump and inspected.

Prisbel had arranged regular inspections of the boom pump since purchasing it in 2010, however none had involved disassembling the unit and testing critical components (such as the king post) which is recommended periodically under Australian Standards.

It was reasonably practicable for Prisbel to reduce the risk of the concrete pump collapsing by conducting a major inspection, including non-destructive testing of the king post.

WorkSafe Executive Director Health and Safety Sam Jenkin said WorkSafe won’t hesitate to take action against companies that fail to do all they can to provide a safe workplace.

“Tragically, a worker has lost his life, leaving behind devastated family and friends whose lives will never be the same, as a result of a terrible incident which could have been prevented,” Mr Jenkin said.

“Proper safety testing and maintenance is crucial when working with machinery – it’s just part of doing business and there’s no excuse for failing to test regularly and thoroughly.”

To manage risks associated with mobile concrete boom pumps employers should:

  • Plan and prepare for each project, including total concrete pumping operational requirements, to ensure operations are performed safely.
  • Prepare a safe work method statement (SWMS) before any high risk construction work (HRCW) is performed, (including operating a boom pump) and ensure that work is performed in accordance with the SWMS.
  • Develop and implement safe operating procedures in consultation with employees and health and safety representatives.
  • Ensure the boom pump and outrigger are set up in a safe location, observing no-go-zones around power lines and allowing for traffic and pedestrian management.
  • Ensure that boom pump operators hold an appropriate high risk work licence.
  • Regularly inspect and maintain boom pumps, including checking pipe components (for example, pipe clamps and safety pins) and thickness testing of pipeline components.
  • Ensure industry standards are being followed in relation to requirements for discharge control, hopper guarding, cleanout processes and emergency controls.

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