The WA Department of Mines and Petroleum has released an initial report into a fatal incident where a worker was crushed by a gantry bridge.
The incident occurred in late July, when a boilermaker was working inside a thickener tank during a shutdown at Central Norseman and the gantry above him failed, collapsing, crushing the worker and pinning him against the tank’s concrete floor.
According the WA DMP, the worker was removing the thickener’s rake shaft in the centre of the tank.
By this point the rake shaft was no longer in use and the rake arms had been removed.
The rake shaft passed through the feedwell above, and was attached to the motor on the self-supporting gantry bridge which spanned the tank; the feedwell was attached to the underside of the gantry.
While the worker stood on the tank floor, cutting into the rake shaft, the gantry failed and collapsed, pinning the man to the floor.
A worker assisting the boilermaker immediately raised the alarm, yet despite the efforts of emergency services the boilermaker died from his injuries.
According to the WA DMP investigation, the incident was caused by severe deterioration of the gantry bridge, which had suffered heavy corrosion, and was no longer self-supporting.
This was exacerbated by the fact the rake shaft, which was providing primary support, failed while being cut.
It went on to state safety was compromised by the fact structural integrity of the tank had not been assessed by a competent person prior to work being carried out.
Additionally, the boilermaker was instructed to remove the rake shaft, which was not designed to provide primary support.