Collapsed crane designer fined

Court case: The Karara mine site. Picture: Supplied

The designer of a crane that collapsed on a WA mine site, damaging a building but narrowly missing workers, has been fined $16,000 in a Perth court.

In a legal first, Wally Entschmann, of Entschmann Engineering, was prosecuted by the Department of Mines for failing to design the crane to the appropriate Australian standard.

Mr Entschmann pleaded guilty to breaching Mines Safety and Inspection Regulations after the spectacular failure of the massive crane at the Karara mine site in 2013.

The crane should have been designed to carry loads greater than 80 tonnes, and was being tested at 110 per cent capacity when the structure folded in half.

The 85-tonne load plummeted five storeys to the ground.

Perth Magistrate’s Court was told that a design modification, which reduced the thickness of the plates designed to take the weight of the boom, meant the crane was not strong enough.

Prosecuting lawyer Tim Russell said there was a clear obligation for the original designer of the crane to make it safe.

But defence lawyer Adam Sharpe said the manufacturer, and external verifier, of the plant machinery were also obligated – although Mr Entschmann accepted his responsibility for the failure.

The firm was also ordered to pay $5000 in court costs.

Department of Mines and Petroleum Director of Mines Safety and State Mining Engineer, Andrew Chaplyn said the outcome was a watershed for the department.

“Safety in Design is one of the major areas of concern identified by the department,” he said.

“We hope this sends a strong message to designers working across the mining industry, but in particular in Western Australia, that negligent or inferior services will be not be accepted.”

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