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Safe transport of concrete panels delivers CoR lessons for all

July 7, 2016

The prevalence of precast concrete panels being transported on our roads has caused WorkSafe WA to issue a safety reminder. It is particularly relevant to all parties affected by Chain of Responsibility (CoR) obligations, regardless of the industry in which they work. Why? Read on.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch said employers should ensure they operate in accordance with the relevant Australian Standard and national Code of Practice when transporting precast concrete panels to building sites.

“There are laws covering the entire process of transportation and delivery of precast concrete wall panels in WA, some of which come under WorkSafe’s jurisdiction and others that are overseen by Main Roads Western Australia,” Mr McCulloch said.

“In addition, laws were introduced last year covering the Chain of Responsibility in road transport. Main Roads WA is responsible for enforcing this legislation,” he said.

Other jurisdictions have their road transport regulators, like VicRoads, RMS, etc.

Knowing the law

“Legislation covers every stage in the transport and delivery of precast concrete wall panels, and employers need to be aware of all the laws involved and have suitable safe work procedures in place,” Mr McCulloch said.

The legislation Mr McCulloch is referring to is the Australian Standard AS3850-2003 Tilt-up Concrete Construction, which lists the procedures that need to be in place when working with and transporting precast panels.

And Safe Work Australia’s National Code of Practice on Precast, Tilt-up and Concrete Elements Construction, also outlines the precautions transport companies, loaders and unloaders, and other parties in the chain need to consider when transporting precast concrete panels.

For instance, section 6.7 deals of the code states: “the transporter needs to ensure that drivers have been adequately instructed in the safe transportation of concrete elements including panels, with particular attention given to:

  • power lines;
  • other activities on the site at the time of transportation;
  • recognised routes for over-dimensional loads;
  • site limitations and local street access; and
  • overhead services.”

It also warns of the dangers of using inadequate restrains for the loads.

“Differential road cambers … may induce torsional loads in long concrete elements. Slender concrete elements may require temporary stiffening against lateral buckling. Drivers should stop and check the load and the restraints shortly after commencing the journey.”

Mass, size and shape

The code advises parties of the need for a traffic management plan that should include:

  • the shape, size and mass of the concrete elements;
  • specific design elements affecting transportation of the concrete element, including the stability of
  • long or unusually shaped concrete elements during transportation and the concrete strength required for transportation (the builder needs to ensure the concrete element has reached the design concrete strength before transportation);
  • the activities of other trades on the construction site and their requirements at the time of transportation of the concrete elements around the site;
  • a documented site-specific traffic management plan that includes provision, where necessary, for traffic control barricades and road closure permits to allow unimpeded access to the site for the transporter.

Loading and unloading

For loaders, unloaders and load managers, there is a section that addresses their specific tasks. It states that securely restrained loads on transport vehicles are vital in preventing accidents and injuries when handling concrete elements.

“Concrete elements should be loaded in a sequence compatible with the required unloading sequence at their intended final destination. Each concrete element should be individually secured as the unloading sequence can lead to instability of loads”, the code states.

Warning for all parties

While many readers may not be actively involved in transporting precast concrete panels, WA’s reminder highlights the amount of detail parties in the supply chain may have to undertake in order to satisfy regulators that they took all reasonable steps to prevent an incident, should one occur.

For more advice, information, hints and tips on your CoR obligations, subscribe to CoR Adviser, a monthly newsletter written in plain English by the transport experts at Holding Redlich lawyers.

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