$50,000 fine issued for fatal concrete boom pump failure

A concrete pumping company in Balwyn North, Victoria, has been convicted and fined $50,000 after a concrete boom pump snapped and fatally struck a worker.

Prisbel Concrete Pumping was sentenced in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court after earlier pleading guilty to a single charge of failing to provide or maintain safe plant. The company was also ordered to pay $8179 in costs.

The court heard that the experienced concrete pump operator was using a truck-mounted pumping machine fitted with a 32-metre boom pump to pour a concrete slab at a St Albans construction site in May 2021.

As the 40-year-old pumped the last of 10 loads of concrete while standing in the slab, the extended boom suddenly collapsed and struck him on the back of his head, knocking him into the concrete and causing fatal injuries.

A WorkSafe Victoria investigation found that the boom collapsed as a result of a metal fatigue crack which caused the king post, inside the turret, to snap in half.

The court heard that cracks may have been detectable for a year or more prior to the boom snapping, had the king post been removed from the pump and inspected.

Prisbel had arranged regular inspections of the boom pump since purchasing it in 2010. However, none had involved disassembling the unit and testing critical components (such as the king post), which is recommended periodically under Australian Standards.

It was reasonably practicable for Prisbel to reduce the risk of the concrete pump collapsing by conducting a major inspection, including non-destructive testing of the king post.

“Proper safety testing and maintenance is crucial when working with machinery – it’s just part of doing business and there’s no excuse for failing to test regularly and thoroughly,” said WorkSafe Victoria executive director health and safety, Sam Jenkin.