More than 60 cranes ordered to stop work after WorkSafe investigates Box Hill death

Work sites across the state have been ordered to stop using dozens of cranes, and conduct safety checks on others, after a construction worker was killed in Melbourne last week.

Investigators have found that a mechanical failure contributed to the fatal incident, when a crane dropped its 1.5-tonne load of concrete into a pit where three men were working.

The Raimondi hammerhead tower crane, owned by Clark Cranes, dropped the large tub, or "kibble", of concrete at the Box Hill construction site just after midday on September 6.

The crane dropped its load of concrete into a pit where three men were working.

Photo: Channel 7

Shaun Burns, a 48-year-old general labourer who was working in the pit, died at the scene after being submerged in concrete.

Mr Burns has been remembered by friends from the Kilmore Field and Game Association as a "great bloke, "hardworking" and a "true friend".

His 28-year-old co-worker from Caroline Springs was struck by the tub and is also believed to have been almost completely submerged in concrete. He was swiftly rescued, but suffered life threatening injuries and remains in a serious condition in hospital.

Shaun Burns, 48, was working in a pit as a general labourer on September 6, when the crane dropped a load of concrete on him and two other workers.

Photo: Kilmore Field and Game Association

A third man suffered non-life threatening injuries.

An initial WorkSafe investigation has found that a suspected failure or malfunction at the end of the crane's hoist rope - a key component on most cranes, also known as the wedge socket - is likely to have contributed to the incident.

Clarks Cranes is the exclusive dealer of Raimondi cranes in Victoria and Queensland.

The company has now issued a cease work order for all 65 Raimondi cranes currently in use in Victoria until a safety audit has been conducted.

WorkSafe said an independent expert would oversee and monitor the audit by Clarks Cranes to ensure it was undertaken correctly.

The company which operated the crane was the same one involved in an incident in Richmond in July where a crane bent backwards in strong winds, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of residents.

But the company said the two incidents were not related.

Emergency service workers at the scene of the tragedy.

Photo: Paul Jeffers

WorkSafe's acting executive director of health and safety Paul Fowler said last Thursday’s tragic incident was serious enough to warrant checks on all cranes.

"The component which we believe contributed to this incident is an integral part of the hoist rope system on most cranes,” Mr Fowler said.

“While there is no reason at this point to suggest this may be faulty on any other crane, a tragic incident such as the one which occurred on Thursday should prompt all crane owners and operators to inspect each and every crane in the state.

“It is essential that all hoist-rope termination assemblies are inspected to ensure they are appropriately installed, compliant and functioning according to manufacturer’s specifications."

He added that if crane operators or owners were unsure about the safety of any crane component they should seek specialist advice.

Mr Fowler said companies operating cranes also needed to review their systems of work to ensure that loads did move over workers.

Clark Cranes said the crane used at the Box Hill site was on its first job when the accident occurred.

With Simone Fox Koob

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