In March 2022 the District Court of NSW found a Principal Contractor guilty for failing to eliminate or reduce so far as reasonably practicable the hazards posed by overhead powerlines when operating a crane.
On 25 October 2018 Arkwood, a provider of organic recycling services, arranged for an independent contractor to provide cranage to load equipment onto a flatbed truck.
The two Arkwood employees were electrocuted when the crane boom struck overhead powerlines.
It “allowed” two unqualified employees to become involved in the task and act as dogmen. If Arkwood had simply left the entire crane operation to the crane operator I suspect they would have successfully argued that it was the obligation of the contractor to
Yet again this case comes down to a Principal Contractor getting unnecessarily involved in an independent contractors’ operations. It also gives insight (again) into when the argument of relying on an expert contractor is impaired.
However, the following findings by the Court are problematic;
Arkwood was entitled to rely on their independent contractor to undertake the work and manage ALL risk arising from it. Arkwood was not an expert in crane operations, or work near overhead powerlines, and it was entirely not reasonably practicable for them to determine where the crane should be positioned.
As a side note perhaps Arkwood would have been better off pleading not guilty on the basis that their workers undertook for themselves to act as dogmen when they were neither qualified nor directed to do so, and who engaged in conduct that was not within the actual or apparent scope of their employment