Why I feel let down by Victorian WorkCover

Why I feel let down by Victorian WorkCover

The tragic events surrounding the crane dropping its load and killing a worker and seriously injuring another brings back the frustration I experienced when trying to deal with the builder constructing a high rise apartment block next to our Melbourne office.

Having seen the results of tilt slab panels being dropped from cranes around Australia and even just falling over once erected I tried to work with the developers, builders and consultants to have any lifting work a) not come over our building and b) if it had to, for this work to be carried out of business hours.

The builders time and time again put profit first and refused to work in with us and the procedure meant that the slabs would be lifted across a section of our building. Some of these slabs were huge as can be seen in the accompanying photograph.

I contacted WorkCover, on the advice of our local authority, as a concerned employer worried about the safety of my staff and was told that the builder was entitled to proceed as they planned.

I, on the other hand, was not prepared to take the risk as I could not live with myself if something was to happen, and to be honest, I had lost faith in the whole process and figured that they could well be using the cheapest contractor to do the lift. (I am not saying they did, I was just factoring in the worst). By this stage of the works, the builders, in my opinion, had shown quite a caviler approach to protection works which had already heightened by risk averse approach to my staff’s safety.

I therefore took the decision after completing a job safety analysis (JSA) to ask people to stagger their work day and start later than normal. While nothing was dropped, the crane broke down and so it was not until about 3 hours after the work was to be scheduled to be finished that the work was completed. All this at a time our IT team were working on a large project for a UK release of one of our products.

Interestingly, LMI are working on a claim in Queensland arising out of Cyclone Debbie and the supervising engineers would not allow the roofing material to be lifted onto the building by crane due to the risk.

The reality is that things can go wrong with a crane lift and while the monetary cost of the neighbour’s lifts (there was more than one day involved) was transferred unfairly to me, unlike them and it appears WorkCover, I am pleased I put my staff’s safety first.

I know nothing of the reasons behind the tragic events in Box Hill and my heart goes out to the sadly perished worker, other injured workers, the families of both men, the crane operator, those that witnessed the event and the emergency services that dealt with the aftermath.

The purpose of this post is to remind everyone that safety is everyone’s responsibility and if someone else is prepared to take the risk, including those charged with protecting workers, but you feel uncomfortable yourself, it is far better to be safe than sorry.

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