Gran Designs – Failure to Prepare SWMS – Was That Really the Problem?

In sentencing a company that caused the death of a worker when a precast panel fell on him, the Judge was particularly scathing of the failure of the Principal Contractor to prepare and implement an adequate SWMS. The Judge observed that “A safe work method statement had been compiled, but it was not taken to the worksite, and it did not include the safety measures associated with working with precast concrete panels, the equipment to be used and so on, which made it pretty much useless for this job,”
The Director of the Company had never used precast panels before and had engaged a crane company to undertake the lift. For the Director of the Company to prepare a SWMS in respect of something he had no expertise in, would have made no difference. A failure to prepare a SWMS by the Principal Contractor was not the issue here. The real issues were a failure to clearly allocate activities between the expert crane contractor (do the lift safely including ensuring the panels were stored safely and could not fall) and the Principal (engaging an expert contractor and excluding workers from the area around the lift and the panels) is the problem.