Maximum penalty after fatal truck crash

A road maintenance company and its director have been convicted and fined more than $466,000 after the death of a young truck driver in West Gippsland in 2017.

Valley Sweep Pty Ltd and Anton Zakic had both pleaded guilty in the Latrobe Valley Magistrates' Court to a single charge each under the OHS of failing to provide and maintain safe plant. charged with indictable offences, which have higher penalties. However, both the company and the director successfully argued to have the matters tried summarily. Therefore Zakic and Valley Sweep faced maximum fines of 500 penalty units and 2,500 units respectively, which equated to $77,730 and $388,650, with the Victorian penalty unit valued at $155.46 at the time of the breaches. This is what they were fined on October 2. They could have 

The Valley Sweep had entered into a hire agreement to provide another company with a water cart truck and a driver in April 2017. Less than a month later, the 21-year-old driver was killed when the truck rolled while travelling down a long, steep, curved section of road near the town of Noojee. A forensic engineer engaged by WorkSafe found the primary cause of the crash was the poor condition of the truck's brakes, which partly resulted from them being adjusted improperly. The truck had last undergone a major inspection and servicing by an external mechanic in December 2015. After that Zakic and another Valley Sweep employee had done maintenance and repair work for the truck and other company vehicles, despite neither being qualified mechanics. In addition, the driver had not received any formal training in the operation of water cart trucks, which have unique handling characteristics, or any supervised training in driving a water cart truck in difficult conditions such as a steep or curved descent.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said there was no excuse for the employer's behaviour. "This company's director made a reckless decision to perform service and maintenance work on the water truck himself, even though he knew he wasn't qualified to do so," Ms Nielsen said. "This failure to take reasonable care left a dangerous vehicle on the road and ultimately cost a young worker his life." Read more: WorkSafe media release

There still has not been an update to WorkSafe Victoria's Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings webpage since our last edition. However, go to it to check for further prosecutions before next week's SafetyNet. 

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