'New crane was on its first job': Company at centre of Box Hill tragedy denies safety concerns
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'New crane was on its first job': Company at centre of Box Hill tragedy denies safety concerns

The crane company at the centre of a tragic construction incident which killed a 48-year-old man has broken its silence, revealing the crane was on its first job when the accident occurred.

Director of Clark Cranes, Michael Clark, released a statement on Friday afternoon, a day after the accident, where a 1.5-tonne tub of concrete fell from a crane at a work site in Box Hill, in Melbourne's east.

One worker was killed and two others injured after the crane dropped the bucket, or "kibble", full of concrete into a pit below. Two of the men were almost completely submerged in concrete.

"Clark Cranes is a family owned and operated business established in Melbourne 10 years ago. We have always placed the highest priority upon the safety and reliability of the equipment that it provides to the building industry," he said.

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The crane at the scene of the incident.

The crane at the scene of the incident.Credit:AAP

"In this case the crane involved in the accident was nearly new having only been purchased from a respected Italian manufacturer of high quality cranes in June of this year. It was only on its first job at the time the accident occurred."

The crane that dropped the load of concrete.

The crane that dropped the load of concrete.Credit:Paul Jeffers

Mr Clark said the Italian manufacturer was sending a team of investigators to help determine what went wrong.

'She's lost her son': Mother of crane victim 'traumatised'

The revelations come as the mother of the 48-year-old labourer killed struggles to come to terms with the traumatic circumstances of her son's death.

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One of the two other injured men remains in a critical condition at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

The construction union's occupational, health and safety manager Dr Gerry Ayers said the worker fighting for his life is believed to be suffering from severe internal injuries and two broken arms.

The 28-year-old Caroline Springs man was also struck by the tub when it fell.

Dr Ayers said the man who died was a 48-year-old labourer from Melbourne. He did not have a wife or children, but his mother was severely distressed by the circumstances surrounding his death.

"She is extremely traumatised. She's lost her son," he said.

"He was a general labourer and helped look after OHS things, he was working with the company for a little while ... he worked directly for the builder."

The crane dropped its load of concrete into a pit where three men were working.

The crane dropped its load of concrete into a pit where three men were working.Credit:Channel 7

Dr Ayers said the union would continue to do unannounced spot checks at work sites to monitor safety breaches, despite a renewed push from the federal government to roll-out tougher laws aimed at reducing their powers.

"We do and will continue to go onto sites unannounced despite the federal government making it even more difficult for people like us to do our jobs," he said.

One of the injured men was an excavator driver, and the other was a "doggie" who helps direct the crane from the ground.

Mr Clark extended his sympathy to the victims, their families and the workmates of those involved in the accident.

He said preliminary inquiries into the accident suggested it was due to an "unprecedented failure in a part of the crane that is not normally subject to any form of inspection of maintenance particularly given its age".

"In the normal course of events these cranes can be expected to operate safely and reliably for many years," he said.

Firefighters in the pit where one man was killed and two were injured.

Firefighters in the pit where one man was killed and two were injured.Credit:AAP

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The crane was operating on a CRC Group site where an apartment block is being built.

Clark Cranes is the same company involved an incident in Richmond in July where a crane bent backwards in strong winds, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of residents.

But the company stressed the two incidents were unrelated.

"At the time of that [Richmond] incident the crane had been used and operated by a builder for several months. No Clark Crane personnel had been involved with the use of the crane over this period."

However, the union has accused the company of refusing to accept industry wide safety standards, saying Clark Cranes has been resistant to using the "green sticker" program, a safety accreditation standard which is run by the Crane Industry Council of Australia.

"It's to see if they are 'roadworthy'. They check cranes and documentation and servicing is done correctly and the physical checks, and give them green stickers," said Dr Ayers.

"Clark Cranes, when they are made to do it, they will, but [on] some sites ... we often find those cranes haven't got green stickers."

He also accused the company of having a "history of having mechanical issues".

He called on the company to do a stringent, forensic audit of all their cranes as soon as possible and has called on those working with Clark Crane's equipment to ask their employers whether they are up to standard.

Chief executive of the Crane Industry Council of Australia Brandon Hitch said the green sticker program was "very common" for crane companies to use.

"It's not correct for me to say Clark Cranes has not used the sticker program, we have examples of them using it, what I don't know is the percentage," he said.

"I don't know what the motivation is not to use it.

"The green sticker in Victoria and nationally is the leading independent inspection program it's very common for crane companies to use it ... a majority of companies in Melbourne use the program."

Mr Hitch said he did not believe the incident was indicative of a wider safety issue in the industry.

"I think any incident of this magnitude should have us concerned in a remorseful sense, in feeling for the family and those that are grieving, but I think we will learn something from it as an industry," he said.

"Am I concerned about cranes in Melbourne? I think we operate a safe industry. That is not to diminish the incident that happened, the fatality, or the gentleman recovering as well."

WorkSafe acting executive director of health and safety, Paul Fowler, said it would take time for the exact cause of the incident to be established.

“Cranes are complex, so there is a lot of careful work required to determine the cause of this tragic incident,” Mr Fowler said.

Simone is a breaking news reporter for The Age. Most recently she covered breaking news for The Australian in Melbourne.