Cranes & Lifting, News, Safety

Working with Health and Safety regulators for a better industry outcome

In late 2020, Wadonga based Dunn’s Twin City Cranes (DTCC) were issued with a Prohibition Notice by Worksafe Victoria. DTCC successfully appealed the notice and consultation with the regulator has allowed CICA to form a steering committee and discussions with Work Safe Victoria around lifting personnel using work boxes have begun.

In late 2020, WorkSafe Victoria attended a remote site that Dunns Twin City Crane’s (DTCC) was contracted to lift and lower underground workers in a tunnel that has a depth of 55m. A workbox was the only practicable method of access.

WorkSafe Victoria inspectors, from various divisions, attended the site several times before deciding to issue a prohibition notice. They believed the use of a crane, without an additional aftermarket braking system, to lift personnel in a work box, placed an immediate and serious danger to the health and safety of personnel accessing the tunnel. The notice was issued based on the content of the safety alert created in 2008: Braking and operational requirements for the cranes using workboxes to lift of personnel.

Linda Toseland joined Jon and Melanie at DTCC approximately six months ago, which was a couple of weeks before the work box notice was issued. DTCC is a family owned and operated business established by Jon and Melanie Dunn in 2004. The DTCC fleet includes Frannas with 10t to 25t lift capacity, all terrains ranging from 40t to 130t, various city cranes and a crane borer. The fleet also includes a range of MR, HR, semi-trailers, floats and crane trucks.  The fleet continues to grow based on the need and demands of the district. This was her formal introduction to the crane industry.

“My role as Work Health and Safety (WHS) Compliance Lead was a newly created role. The role is designed to assist the business in development of all facets of operational compliance. My focus is to document a safety management system that fits the businesses goals, legal obligations, values, needs and means enabling us to “getting the job Dunn” safely. My hope is that I will eventually learn more the practical side of the crane industry in a ‘hands on fashion’,” said Toseland.

“Whilst I am relatively new to the crane industry, I have fond childhood memories of helping repair proline borer cranes owned by Flower and Sons of Trafalgar, which were used for relocation of houses, SES power poles and factory erection and other crane related jobs.

“This coupled with my practical background as a fitter and machinist and experience working in a wide range of industries in both maintenance and safety lead roles has enabled me to hit the ground running within DTCC, combined with Jon and Mel’s skilled and welcoming approach to business,” she said.

The Liebherr LTM 1090-2, involved in the work box prohibition notice does not have an aftermarket redundant braking system fitted. It is worth noting that Victoria is the only state worldwide, requiring an additional aftermarket braking system to be fitted to crane when used with a workbox.

The prohibition notice was appealed and overturned within the seven-day timeframe as the reviewer deemed the work to not pose an immediate threat to the health and safety of personnel.

Several weeks later WorkSafe Vic, issued an improvement notice based on the belief the crane was posing a danger to the personnel’s health and safety, with the inspector providing the same remedies to the hazard as the prohibition notice.

DTCC addressed the inspector’s concerns by providing a robust system of work coupled with minor updates to the service records sheets contents, which was based on the health and safety solution- Inspection and maintenance record for bridge and gantry cranes issued008 by WorkSafe Victoria. It is worth noting the compliance was achieved by using other means outside the suggested approaches on the improvement notice but still provided a safe system of work and was outcome based

Consultation with the regulator has allowed CICA to form a steering committee that along with other key stakeholders has begun discussions with Work Safe Victoria on amending the safety alert and creating work box guidance material that is better suited to current technology and practices.

Toseland explains the difference between an “Improvement Notice” and a “Prohibition Notice” and what companies should do if they receive one.

“A Prohibition Notice is issued if an inspector has reasonable belief that the activity poses immediate danger to the health and safety of employees, contractors, public or volunteers. The notice can direct a person not to carry out the activity or not to complete it in a specific manner, until the inspector is satisfied that the matters that give or will give rise to the risk, have been remedied.

“Whereas an ‘Improvement Notice’ will be issued by an inspector, if they can form the reasonably belief that a person, 1) is contravening a provision of the OHS Act or the regulations or, 2) has contravened such a provision in circumstances that make it likely that the contravention will continue or be repeated.

“The inspector may issue to the person an Improvement Notice requiring the person to remedy the likely actions or the direct contravention. This also includes breaches of worker compensation requirements,” she said.

Toseland explains what she sees as the most common misunderstandings people managing cranes have in regard to WHS requirements.

“Like most industries, complacency followed by a lack of understanding of roles and responsibilities under the regulations are the main issues. From what I have seen in the industry, there are high levels of awareness of foreseeable industry specific hazards, however the understanding of the WHS requirements and where management/leaders, operators and client’s accountability start and finish is cloudy.

There are key parts of the WHS legislation everyone should know about, says Toseland.

“While there is no legal requirement for any business to comply with AS4801, ISO1800 or ISO45001, all offer a good framework to begin the safety review process.

“The key elements that all businesses should have implemented include.

  • Risk management – good understanding of what hazards exist in the business and how you will control them.
  • Good understanding of the roles and responsibilities of each position including site supervisors and clients.
  • Good consultation process, your employees will know where the issues are and mostly likely know how to fix or manage the hazard. By having a good relationship where employees feel they have a say and are listened too is a massive part of getting safety right.
  • A plan with targets and objectives- documented and reviewed and actioned.
  • Documentation – having solid policy and procedure that matches what you do within your business that is implemented and understood, is critical.
  • Review and monitor the hazards and risks to achieve continual improvement.
  • Training and assessment of employees understanding.
  • Injury management process- If injury occurs make sure you look after your employees and get them the treatment a care they deserve.

“The level of training and content is also something that each industry does differently. Holding a licence and being competent are two very different things. An employer must provide a safe working environment this includes providing training and continual reviews when the training is completed. To strengthen the industry and prevent serious incidents it is critical to teach our people and do it well.

Toseland explains the implications of So Far As Reasonably Practicable (SFARP) and the five categories of assessment.

 The Victorian OHS Act 2004, under section 20

This requires a duty holder to:

  1. Eliminate the risk to health and safety SFARP; and
  2. If it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk to health and safety, then reduce it SFARP.

When assessing risk, the legislation is clear on how this should be undertaken,” she said. “SFRAP is made with five considerations. The first step is to establish the likelihood of the event taking place.  Then the consequence needs to be assessed, of what could happen.”

Section 20a and 20b:

Likelihood of the hazard or risk concerned eventuating by the consequence the degree of harm that would result if the hazard or risk eventuated – Likelihood x Consequence = Risk

The higher the consequence and the likelihood the higher the priority to manage the risk should be. Most people in the industry can relate to this process as a part of Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS).

State of Knowledge- Section 20c – of the OHS act

What the person concerned knows, or ought reasonably to know about the hazard/risks, and ways of eliminating the hazard/risks (eg. through design.)

The knowledge factor of SFARP, takes into consideration, what a normal person in your role, should know about the task/hazard. This also considers what others in industry and within your organisation know about the task/hazard. The hurdles you should consider what is your role, the roles of others and what they should being doing and finally what does industry know other discoverable information about the matter.

A duty holder is expected to proactively seek knowledge about the hazard and control measures. This means that the duty holder needs to proactively seek information about the hazard, illness or potential injury.

Availability and suitability- Section 20d of the OHS Act 2004

This requires you to consider, what is available on the market and can the work process be changed to eliminate or reduce the risk. When considering if something is suitable it is important to consider several issues including

  • Is the control practicable;
  • The feasibility of implementation; and
  • Does the control introduce other risks that may be higher in likelihood or consequence and the availability of the control?

Cost of the Solution Section 20e

This is often forgotten about and while it is important to have a safety bias when reviewing a solution, it is the duty holder’s obligation and right to consider cost as part of the SFARP. The ability to afford the solution cannot be taken into consideration.

“The greater the consequence and likelihood of the degree of harm the less influence cost should have on SFARP” says Toseland

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