Crane operator fined over 2015 collapse which seriously injured another worker in Karratha

Crane operator fined over 2015 collapse which seriously injured another worker in Karratha

A crane operator who disregarded safety warnings when he overloaded the machine he was using, seriously injuring another worker, has been fined $4,400.

Robert Anthony Hoekzema was working on a four-storey commercial building in Karratha in 2015, using a crane to lift concrete panels from a rack and into place.

WorkSafe WA said Mr Hoekzema was directed by a H’Var Steel Services site manager to lift the panels, even though both men knew the crane’s positioning meant some of the lifts were beyond its capacity.

Twice the crane was overloaded up to 135 per cent of its capacity, activating an alarm which killed the machine. But Mr Hoekzema was able to override the safety measure.

Eventually an overloaded crane boom bent and collapsed, triggering a cable wire to swing down and crush the foot of a traffic manager below.

WorkSafe WA said the worker suffered serious injuries, with the force of the cable knocking him to the ground, resulting in the need for a spinal fusion and loss of the full use of his right arm.

The worker also lost four toes and suffered multiple foot fractures and extensive lacerations.

On Friday Mr Hoekzema pleaded guilty in the Perth Magistrates Court to failing to take reasonable care to avoid adversely affecting another person.

He was fined $4400 and ordered to pay $4700 in costs.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Ian Munns said the case was an obvious warning that “inbuilt systems should never be ignored, disabled or overridden”.

“Mr Hoekzema is an experienced crane operator with a High Risk Work Licence, but the process he used to overload the crane was expressly prohibited by the manuals kept in the cabin of the crane and contrary to the manufacturer’s specifications,” Mr Munns said.

“Although he was only part of a collective decision not to move the crane to a safe operating location and to overload it, it was his responsibility to refuse to operate the crane outside of its specified lifting capacity.”

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