Prosecutions

Trio convicted after worker’s death

At the end of December last year, two companies and a director were convicted and penalised $250,000 over the death of a contractor who was killed when run over by a trailer at a Mildura almond processer in 2018.

Olam Orchards Pty Ltd and Complete Commodity Management Pty Ltd (CCM) pleaded guilty in the Mildura Magistrates’ Court to one charge each of failing to ensure persons other than employees were not exposed to risks to their health or safety. The court ordered Olam to pay $75,000 and CCM $150,000 to local charities. 

CCM director Desmond Brown pleaded guilty to one charge of failing as an officer of CCM to take reasonable care to ensure persons other than employees were not exposed to risks to their health and safety and was ordered to donate $25,000.

Each party was also ordered to pay $4481 in costs. 

In 2018, CCM was engaged by Olam to manage the delivery of almonds to its Mildura processor, which included tractors with trailers attached moving in and out of a mill tunnel where the trailers were unloaded. On 6 April of that year, a 24-year-old labour hire worker contracted to CMM was killed when he was crushed by a moving trailer inside the tunnel. He has been tasked with clearing blockages preventing almonds from being unloaded and had been standing between two trailers when the incident occurred.

At the time of the prosecution, WorkSafe Acting Executive Director of Health and Safety Adam Watson said there was no excuse for failing to protect workers from the known risks of mobile machinery. "Too often workers are put at risk because well-known safety steps, such as separating employees from mobile machinery, are not followed," Mr Watson said.

The VTHC would have liked to have seen higher fines, and even a prison sentence, rather than ordering the parties to donate to local charities. This young man's death should never have occurred.  Read more: WorkSafe media release

Air-conditioning company pays $15,000 after apprentice injured

In January Air Synergy Pty Ltd, a company which supplies, services and installs evaporative, refrigerated and split system air conditioning systems, was sentenced, without conviction, to one year good behaviour bond, a contribution of $15,000.to the Court Fund and ordered to pay VWA's costs over a 2018 incident in with an apprentice was seriously injured. He fell approximately 3 metres while installing an evaporative cooling system on a single level pitch roof at a home in Tarneit. He slid down the roof, hit a colour bond fence with his back and fell to the ground.

The court found the employer had not identified the fall hazards and risks and outlining the way employees were required to carry out tasks, had failed to ensure workers used a fall arrest system such as safety harnesses, and had not provided them with the necessary instruction, information and training to safely work at heights. It was reasonably practicable for the company to reduce or eliminate risk by ensuring that a risk assessment was undertaken prior to commencement of work and fall protection was in place.

Metal fabrication company fined without conviction after worker crushed by steel beam

Central Victorian Welding & Fabrication Pty Ltd, operator of a metal fabrication workshop in Axedale,  pleaded guilty and was, without conviction, fined $15,000, plus $1,654 in costs after an incident in January 2019 where a 21 year old employee was injured when he was struck by a 900 kg steel beam which was being lifted using a mobile crane. He sustained a fractured pelvis and muscle damage and spent five days in hospital.

The worker and a crane operator had been tasked by a supervisor with moving steel beams from their location outside on a concrete pad into the back of the shed at the workplace - a distance of about 300 metres. The young man was an apprentice boilermaker with the company. He did not hold any 'high risk work' licences for dogging, rigging or operating cranes or forklifts. He was not being supervised whilst carrying out the lifting works on on that day.

The company had no safe operating procedures or written systems of work in place for lifting and moving loads using plant at the workplace.

To check for more prosecutions before the next edition, go to WorkSafe Victoria'sProsecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings webpage. 

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