none
none
none
none

TIMBER IS NOT A VALID SUPPORT TOOL

07-03-2017
by 
in 

A recent court case has highlighted an unsafe practice that is all too widespread in engineering works around Australia – the use of timber in place of properly specified work supports.

The case followed a tragedy at a workshop run by PJL Group in Cobar in May 2014 in which a 30-year-old diesel mechanic suffered fatal crush injuries when a load frame from a 20 tonne underground haul truck slipped from its supports and fell on him.

An investigation by SafeWork NSW found that the load frame was supported on steel cylindrical stands propped-up on the wooden blocks, which were unable to handle the load. The wooden blocks split, causing the load frame to fall on the worker, resulting in fatal crush injuries.

SafeWork NSW charged PJL with a breach of section 19(1)/32 of the Work Health and Safety Act (NSW) for failing to manage the risk of serious injury or death from the load frame moving or falling. PJL was found guilty in the District Court and fined $225,000.

Tony Brooks is a Director of maintenance equipment specialist Safety MITS, and he is adamant that timber is not a valid support tool. He says: “Instead of using fit-for-purpose jacking, cribbing and blocking tools for supporting heavy loads, I’m frustrated to see companies still putting their workers at risk by using inefficient and dangerous random pieces of timber.”

The main problem with the use of timber is that its structural integrity (or lack of it) often cannot be identified until it's too late. A block may be perfect the day you buy it, but the danger comes as it ages and gets exposed to certain elements.

Timber in moist conditions will absorb water and become structurally unsound, while timber exposed to excessive heat becomes brittle. When the load-bearing effectiveness is compromised, timber can fail catastrophically with little or no warning.

Says Brooks: “There are plastic engineered cribbing blocks available on the market, which are far superior to timber. For example, each of our Dura Crib plastic engineered cribbing blocks possesses a uniform load-bearing capacity across the entire block.

This is due to blocks having a specific chemical composition that is constantly repeated, and a quality manufacturing process that ensures all products are the same, plus or minus five per cent.

I do appreciate that industry is slowly recognising the benefits of plastic engineered cribbing blocks, but that process is not fast enough. We still have too many workers being killed or injured in our workplaces needlessly.”

Safety MITS
02 8005 6487
safetymits.com

Related news & editorials

  1. 24.04.2017
    by      In
    The latest version of the Konecranes CraneQ geometric survey is now available in Australasia, giving crane owners accurate data on the geometry of their cranes, enabling informed maintenance and action to improve safety and optimise crane service life.
    The CraneQ survey is applicable to all kinds... Read More
  2. 20.04.2017
    by      In
    Polymer safety barrier specialist A-Safe has set up a subsidiary in Australia. Sydney-based A-Safe Australasia has been established to serve the Australian and New Zealand market, with additional sales staff in Melbourne and Brisbane, and local stock of the company’s award-winning safety barriers.... Read More
  3. 13.04.2017
    by      In
    Some jobs are labelled high risk because they're much more unpredictable and insecure than regular jobs. Examples of such include scaffolding, dogging and rigging, and operating cranes, hoists, reach stackers, forklifts, and pressure equipment.
    High-risk work requires a special licence.
    Statistics... Read More
  4. 12.04.2017
    by      In
    SafetyMITS has come up with a novel portable safety barrier system for a wide range of industries including mining, building, construction and manufacturing. The Rapid Roll barrier storage cartridge and rapid post system can be deployed in minutes to create a clearly defined protective zone that... Read More