Engineering company fined after 2017 Wolli Creek crane collapse

A structural engineering company has been fined more than $200,000 after three workers were injured in a crane collapse at Wolli Creek in 2017.

The crane collapsed into a block of apartments in early August 2017, causing more than 150 people from the building's 88 apartments to be evacuated and accommodated elsewhere.

S&T Services Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to a breach of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 in the NSW District Court following a SafeWork NSW investigation.

They were fined $225,000 for their part in the incident, which also forced the closure of the T2 Airport train line.

Valerie Griswold, executive director of investigations and enforcement at the Better Regulation Division, said the case sent a strong message about the need for safety in the construction industry.

"SafeWork NSW has a zero-tolerance for workers or the public being put at risk of serious or fatal injuries through unsafe practices," she said.

Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation Kevin Anderson said S&T Services became the first company to receive such a fine.

"This is the first time SafeWork NSW has brought charges under section 22(2) of the Work Health and Safety Act, which relates to a failure by a designer to ensure that a structure is designed to be without risk," he said.

The company had been engaged to design a large steel cantilevered grillage to support a tower crane at a Wolli Creek construction site.

During the final stages of the erection of the crane, three workers were slewing a newly installed counterweight 180 degrees to pin the jib when the right-hand corner of the grillage the crane was sitting on gave way, the investigation found.

The opposite corner then also gave way, causing the crane to fall and land in the penthouse apartment in Brodie Spark Drive across the road.

The upper levels and roof of the building sustained structural damage.

The three workers were able to jump from the crane onto the building's rooftop as the structure fell.

Each of them sustained injuries. Two of the workers were subsequently unable to return to rigging work, it was revealed.

The workers were treated for their injuries at the scene before being taken to St George Hospital.

Injuries included knee damage, stitches to the arm, minor cuts and bruising.

It took several days before the apartment block's residents were able to return to their homes.

The NSW District Court found the design of the grillage was not sufficient to support the total weight of the tower crane.

It found the calculations for the pin connection points were incorrect and only hand calculations were made. Even though computer modelling was reportedly available, the method was reportedly not employed.

The court found the risk of the crane collapsing was 'obvious and foreseeable' if the grillage design was not adequate to support the fully-erected tower crane.

S&T services were convicted and fined $225,000 and ordered to pay the prosecutor's costs. The company has since ceased to trade.

They have the option to appeal the decision.

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