Company fined $600k after barge capsizes
Thiess Services Pty Ltd has been fined a total of $600,000 after an overloaded barge capsized throwing three workers into the water seriously injuring one of them.
Thiess Services Pty Ltd was charged, prosecuted, convicted and fined for two breaches of the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, following the overloading of the barge on two separate occasions at Patterson Lakes, Victoria, in April 2012. Thiess Services Pty Ltd was fined $250,000 for the first charge and $350,000 for the second.
In the first incident, on 19 April, the barge designed to carry about five tonnes was overloaded with a 15-tonne excavator, according to a WorkSafe Victoria media statement. Although the barge tilted dangerously, the excavator operator was asked to reposition the boom of the excavator to counterbalance the weight. The barge eventually made it to its destination without capsizing.
In the second incident, on 27 April, the barge was used to move a 13-tonne excavator. On this occasion the barge capsized. The excavator operator, who was in the cabin of the excavator at the time, and two other men on the barge were thrown into the river. The operator sustained three broken ribs, a lung infection, a smashed top dental plate, an enlarged heart and psychological injuries. The two other men were uninjured, WorkSafe Victoria said.
The court heard that in 2010, NSW Maritime had assessed the stability of the barge and told Thiess Services Pty Ltd of its concerns about the loading and transportation of a 5.3-tonne excavator, WorkSafe Victoria said.
NSW Maritime subsequently issued a Certificate of Survey for the barge, which included limiting the operation of the barge “in accordance with loading conditions in a NSW Maritime approved stability book onboard”, WorkSafe Victoria said. But the barge was used without the book until after the two incidents in 2012.
“The company had known for several years that experts had expressed concerns over the stability of the barge when carrying a weight of more than five tonnes,” WorkSafe Victoria executive director of health and safety, Marnie Williams said in a media statement.
“Rather than minimising the risks by obtaining a stability book, and adhering strictly to the conditions it set out, the company simply chose to play Russian roulette with the lives of its employees and contractors.”
For more detail, visit WorkSafe Victoria
Published on 19 November 2015 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin enewsletter – available free every fortnight direct to your email. Subscribe online today.