Skip to content

Neglecting Australian Standards #2: Crane Carnage

In our last update, we looked at how a scaffolding contractor and plumbing company got caught in serious courtroom drama by ignoring Australian Standards.

This time, we focus on a hair-raising crane collapse that left a telescopic crawler crane in a multi-million dollar pile of ruins. Brace yourself for a tale of gravity-defying mishaps, insurance disputes, and the power of Australian Standards.

Crane vs. Concrete

Our story takes place in the southwest of Brisbane, where a construction project was in full swing. The project involved the careful movement of pre-fabricated concrete panels into place using a 100-tonne crawler crane. However, disaster struck when the second-last panel was being lifted, and the crane’s boom suddenly gave way—leaving nothing but a wreckage of twisted metal.

The crane’s owner, Matton Developments, had wisely insured the machine with CGU. As expected, the insurance policy included a critical reference to an Australian Standard – AS 1418.5 – 2002 Cranes, hoists, and winches. This particular standard stipulated that the crane’s lifting capacity would depend on the gradient of the ground underneath it. Flat ground offered maximum capacity, but even a slight incline or decline would significantly reduce the crane’s carrying capability.

Unfortunately, the poor crane operator failed to adhere to the requirements of AS 1418.5. Against the standard’s guidance, the operator attempted to lift an excessively heavy concrete panel on an unsafe incline. The predictable outcome? The crane’s boom collapsed, resulting in a catastrophic failure.

Legal limbo: A decade of drama after the dust settles

CGU promptly denied insurance coverage, leaving Matton Developments in a state of shock. The crane collapse triggered a protracted legal battle that wound its way through the Supreme Court of Queensland and the Queensland Court of Appeal. A decade of litigation ensued, draining both finances and time, as Matton Developments fought tooth and nail to secure compensation for the written-off crane and lost earnings.

In the end, the crane operator emerged victorious, securing a multi-million dollar payout. However the taste of success was bittersweet, considering the substantial legal fees and distractions endured along the way. This cautionary tale underscores the critical importance of complying with Australian Standards, as the consequences of overlooking these standards can be financially and legally crippling.

Australian Standards: Not just shelf decorations

The crane collapse serves as a vivid reminder to all businesses that adherence to Australian Standards is not a matter to be taken lightly. Neglecting compliance not only jeopardizes the safety of workers and equipment but also exposes businesses to arduous legal battles and insurance disputes.

So before you unwittingly put your business at risk, pull out your insurance policy and check for any Australian Standards lurking in the small print.

Want to stay up to date?

Get the latest technical and compliance updates straight into your inbox

Need Some Specialist Help?

One of our legal experts will be happy to set up a complimentary 30-minute legal consultation. Simply contact us via our online enquiry form, by calling on 03 8683 5645 or by emailing us at [email protected]

Get the latest technical and compliance updates straight in your inbox