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Prosecution Details

Defendant RCR Mining Pty Ltd (ACN 060 002 940)
Section 23F, 19(1), 19A(2) and 3A(3)(b)(i)
Offence Date 1 October 2010
Description of Breach(es)

The Accused was a person for whom, under a labour hire arrangement, work was carried out for remuneration by workers in the course of the Accused's trade or business; and who failed, so far as was practicable, and as regards matters over which the Accused had the capacity to exercise control, to provide and maintain a working environment in which those workers were not exposed to hazards; and who, by that failure, caused the death of such a worker, contrary to sections 23F, 19(1) and 19A(2) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Background Details

Summary
On 1 October 2010, a boilermaker was fatally injured when he was struck by a falling large metal object known as a ‘spider'. He and another boilermaker had been using the spider to adjust a large metal cylinder into a circular shape. The spider fell from the cylinder when they rotated the cylinder. Neither had performed the task before. They thought that the spider was secured sufficiently that it would not fall.

The deceased and the second boilermaker had been performing the task for RCR Mining Pty Ltd. It was reasonably practicable for RCR Mining Pty Ltd to have had in place a procedure requiring any spider being used in the vertical plane to shape a cylinder to be continually attached to a crane until the spider itself had been securely welded to, or otherwise secured to, the cylinder.

RCR Mining Pty Ltd's failure to do so caused the death of the deceased.

Background
RCR Mining Pty Ltd is a corporation that carries on a fabrication, maintenance and repair business from premises at 239 Planet Street, Welshpool (Workplace). RCR Mining Pty Ltd is a subsidiary of RCR Tomlinson Ltd.

On 30 September and 1 October 2010, the deceased and the second boilermaker were carrying out work for RCR Mining Pty Ltd in the Fabrication Division of the Workplace.

The boilermakers were employees of a labour hire provider and had been provided to work for RCR Mining Pty Ltd since 9 July 2010 and 26 July 2010 respectively.

The second boilermaker had worked as a boilermaker since 1981. The deceased had worked primarily as a boilermaker since 1995.

On 30 September and 1 October 2010, the deceased and the second boilermaker were working in the fabrication of a cylindrical rotary cooler of length approximately 6 metres and diameter approximately 4 metres.

Because the rotary cooler was not perfectly round, an adjustable ‘spider' was to be used to round it.

The adjustable ‘spider' was a large tool comprising six metal ‘legs', each approximately 2 metres in length, bolted to central discs. At the end of each leg was a threaded screw. These screws were to be gradually adjusted in sequence to form the cylinder from an ‘untrue' to a ‘true' circle.

On 30 September and 1 October 2010, this task had been assigned to the deceased and the second boilermaker.

Neither had used an adjustable spider before.

Neither was asked on behalf of RCR Mining Pty Ltd whether he had used a spider before.

Neither had been trained by RCR Mining Pty Ltd in the use of spiders.


30 September 2010
The deceased and the second boilermaker first lifted the spider using an overhead crane in order to insert it upright into the cylinder, which was mounted on rotators.

The spider task was originally to be performed by other workers who had done it on previous occasions. However, one of them had been required to do other work, which is why the task was instead assigned to the deceased and the second boilermaker.

The deceased and the second boilermaker attempted to tighten out the spider's legs to shape the cylinder, but found that the spider was shifting position, or ‘walking', when they did so.

They raised concerns as to this problem with their leading hand.

The leading hand had himself used an adjustable spider on numerous occasions at the Workplace.

He called another worker, a welder, over to the cylinder. The welder had used the spider previously, and explained that he tightened the spider's legs using ‘jacking plates' and a hydraulic jack known as a ‘porta-power'.

The deceased and the second boilermaker consequently tack-welded jacking plates to the leg of the spider that was at the bottom of the cylinder.

They then used the porta-power on the jacking plate to jack out a gap between the spider's leg and the cylinder, and then tightened (i.e., extended) the leg against the cylinder, thereby avoiding the spider ‘walking'. They then removed the porta-power.

By this time the work day had ended, so they left the Workplace, leaving the spider inside the cylinder and supported by the crane.


1 October 2010
The deceased and the second boilermaker returned to their task - adjusting the spider's legs to shape the cylinder - the next day, 1 October 2010.

They knew that at some point they would need to access the upper legs of the spider, which were out of reach from ground level. They discussed the task and decided that they would not mechanically rotate the cylinder to bring the spider's upper legs within reach, because they considered that this would potentially tangle the crane chains attached through the middle of the spider, possibly dislodging the spider from the cylinder or damaging the crane.

One way they could have accessed the upper legs without rotating the cylinder would have been to use a scissor lift, or EWP. Although they had previously had access to a scissor lift, at one point on 1 October 2010 another worker came to collect it for another purpose.

The deceased and the second boilermaker decided that they would mechanically rotate the cylinder to be able to access the spider's upper legs. Before the scissor lift was removed, the deceased and the second boilermaker used it to ascend to and detach the crane chains, so that they would not be tangled when the cylinder rotated.

This left the spider unsupported by anything other than the tension of its legs against the internal surface of the cylinder.

At one point on either 30 September or 1 October 2010, the leading hand told the deceased and the second boilermaker that, once they had got the diameter of the cylinder close to where it ultimately needed to be, they should tack or weld the spider's legs into position.

The deceased and the second boilermaker had not yet done so, because they considered that they still needed to further adjust the legs to correct the cylinder's diameter.

They rotated the cylinder to bring an upper leg of the spider within reach, to further adjust manually.

They thought that the manual adjustments they had made thus far were sufficient that the spider's legs were tight enough against the cylinder such that the spider would not fall when the cylinder was rotated.

The second boilermaker was standing to the right of the centre of the cylinder, operating the rotator control panel. The deceased was standing to the left of the centre of the cylinder and momentarily turned to his left, away from the job.

The second boilermaker saw the spider start to move. He jumped back and shouted out to the deceased.

The deceased turned back to his right, but was struck by the spider, which had fallen out of the cylinder.

The deceased died at the scene as the result of severe chest injuries, including extensive fracturing to the ribs and internal bleeding associated with lacerations and bruising of the lungs.


Safety systems
As at 1 October 2010, RCR Mining Pty Ltd had implemented a safety management system that included the following aspects.

1. Workers were recruited (from labour hire providers and otherwise) on the basis that they were experienced and competent for their job descriptions.
2. Workers were inducted at the Workplace, including in the reporting of hazards and in implementing controls to address hazards.
3. Workers were required to complete and record a ‘Stop & Think' risk assessment at the start of each shift, and when there was any change to the working environment. The recorded Stop & Thinks were handed in for checking at the end of the day.
4. If, after completing the Stop & Think, the workers had assessed the residual risks of the task as being above a defined level, a job safety analysis (JSA) was required for the task.
5. Further, some tasks carried such serious risks that, according to RCR Mining Pty Ltd's risk matrix, a JSA would always be required.
6. If the task was an ongoing one, a standard operating procedure (SOP) and/or Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) was to be formulated.
7. Any JSA, SOP or SWMS was to be signed off by the relevant supervisor and manager.

On 30 September 2010, the deceased and the second boilermaker each completed a Stop & Think for their tasks for the day. At that point, they had not considered the use of the spider, so their Stop & Thinks did not address it specifically.

On 1 October 2010, before commencing work, the deceased and the second boilermaker again each completed a Stop & Think for their tasks for the day.

They deceased and the second boilermaker did not complete a JSA. They discussed the task and were satisfied that they had appropriately assessed their task for risk, and commenced work.

The risks involved in the spider task were such that, according to RCR Mining Pty Ltd's risk matrix, a JSA should have been completed, regardless of the content of the Stop & Thinks.

As at 1 October 2010, there was no JSA, SOP or SWMS in place in relation to the use of the spider.

Shortly after the fatal incident, RCR Mining Pty Ltd did formulate an SWMS for the task of ‘rounding shells and fitting adjustable spiders'. This SWMS required the spider to be attached to an overhead crane until the spider had been welded into position.

Contravention
As at 1 October 2010, it was reasonably practicable for RCR Mining Pty Ltd to have had in place a procedure (whether in the form of a JSA, SOP, SWMS, or otherwise) requiring any spider being used in the vertical plane to shape a cylinder to be continually attached to a crane until the spider itself had been securely welded to, or otherwise secured to, the cylinder.

RCR Mining Pty Ltd's failure to do so caused the death of the deceased.

 




Outcome Summary

Found guilty after trial.  Convicted on 20 August 2015 and sentenced on the 30 November 2015.

Conviction Date 20 Aug 2015
Court Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Perth
Fine $90,000.00
Costs $70,000.00
Charge Number PE37255/13