Worker killed at Peppers

A CONSTRUCTION workers union official has blasted licensing laws for on-site machinery following the death of a concretor working on the Peppers resort south of Kingscliff on Saturday.

The Barclay Mowlem site was closed after 46-year-old Michael Palmer, from Worongary on the Gold Coast, died instantly at about 6.50am (NSW) when an all-terrain crane lifting a load of concrete tipped over, striking him on the head.

Tweed/Byron Inspector Ian Fitzsimmons yesterday said the four-wheeled all-terrain crane was lifting a metal hopper with about 2.5 cubic metres of concrete to be poured into a stairwell.

Mr Palmer, an employee of East Coast Concrete, attempted to run out of the stairwell but was struck on his head as the crane boom tipped.

The crane was at the top of an incline at the entry to an underground carpark. Mr Palmer, a concretor, was building a stairwell at the bottom of the incline inside the carpark.

Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union NSW Assistant Secretary Brian Parker said the accident exposed the weaknesses of the State licensing system for crane vehicles.

At present, no licence is required to drive all-terrain cranes such as the Manitou involved in Saturday's incident, Mr Parker said.

"It is absurd that in NSW the smallest of forklifts requires a licence, yet anyone on a building site is allowed to drive around in one of those rough terrain cranes," he said.

"How can anyone be surprised that a tragic death like this has occurred when WorkCover is determined to keep a ridiculous system in place that says a small forklift is more dangerous than one of these much larger cranes, which have had accidents in the past?"

A spokesman for WorkCover said the accident was being investigated.

Mr Parker said the rules on crane licences should be made simpler.

"This man has been killed, and his family torn apart, all because government bureaucracies refuse to act and implement a single, sensible system that says if you are driving large machinery like this you need a licence to protect you, other workers and pedestrians from tragic accidents.

"We are determined to force WorkCover and the NSW Government to correct this situation before another building worker is killed."

A meeting involving unions and Barclay Mowlem officials will be held at the construction site today to determine if working conditions were safe enough to recommence work.

Police, forensic and Workcover investigators attended the accident scene.

A spokesman for Barclay Mowlem declined to comment.



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