Company, director fined $375,000 after worker's fatal fall

A company and its director have been convicted and fined a combined $375,000 following the death of a worker at a Clayton warehouse in 2019.

Lagondar Nominees Pty Ltd and director Emil Lagondar were sentenced in the Melbourne Country Court on 29 July after pleading guilty on 15 June to one charge each of failing to provide a safe workplace. They were fined $250,000 and $125,000 respectively.

The court heard the company had sold its Clayton warehouse and the worker was helping with decommissioning work prior to settlement.

On 15 April 2019, the worker was in an unsecured cage elevated by a forklift about 4.5 metres off the ground when the cage fell from the forklift to the concrete floor below. He suffered fatal head injuries.

A WorkSafe investigation found that the cage was unstable and unable to be properly secured to the forklift and that there were several risk control measures that could have been taken, including using an elevated work platform such as a scissor lift, which was available at the workplace. Read more: WorkSafe media release

Abattoir fined for multiple breaches following employee injury

Koallah Farm Pty Ltd operates an abattoir in Koallah. From May 2018, WorkSafe inspectors attended the workplace and identified risks to employee health and safety in connection with a number of issues including:

  • the use and storage of substances at the workplace
  • the maintenance of fire extinguishers
  • lighting in access passages
  • the use of stairs and walkways between separate areas
  • the electrical supply for a pump shed
  • guarding on a drive shaft in a waste pump pit
  • the use of a loading dock transfer plate, and
  • the use of items of plant at the workplace

On 4 April 2019, an employee performing slaughterman duties on the kill floor hooked a beef carcass onto a rail with shackle equipment including a hook and pulley. As the carcass reached a second rail, it fell to the ground. The shackle struck him on the side of the body, causing wounds to his elbow, ribs and hips. He received treatment in hospital. The company failed to notify WorkSafe of the incident.

Koallah Farm was prosecuted and sentenced for several breaches of the OHS Act relating both to the incident and WorkSafe's previous visits: 

  • S111(4) failure to comply with improvement notices - $10,000 
  • S21(1) & 21(2)(a) failure to provide or maintain plant in relation to the incident on 4 April 2019 - $30,000 
  • S38(1) failure to notify the Victorian WorkCover Authority of the incident on 4 April 2019 - $2,500

Employer fined $25,000 after crushing injury

Carrum Downs company Australian Dairy Park Pty Ltd manufactures baby formula and other milk powder products. At the factory is an item of plant, the "robotic arm", used to lift cans of baby formula using suction arms, and pack them into boxes for distribution. It is enclosed by perspex preventing employees from entering the room while it is in operation: there are two interlocking doors allowing access. Once the doors are opened, the robotic arm stops.

On 18 July 2021 an employee working on the production line noted a can stuck on the conveyor inside the robot room. He entered the room through a gap in the perspex. As the worker removed the can from the conveyer, the robotic arm activated/lowered, crushing the tips of his fingers.  

At the time of the incident, the guarding was inadequate as there were three gaps in the perspex which allowed entry without triggering the interlocking doors.

The employer pleaded guilty and was without conviction fined $25,000 plus $2,386.33 costs. Had it not been for the plea of guilty, the company would have been convicted and fined $50,000.  

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

Worker awarded $635k for injury

An injured worker has been awarded about $635,000 in damages, after the Supreme Court found his employer's failure to identify his tasks as hazardous manual handling caused his disabling musculoskeletal injury. In April 2016, the process worker injured his right shoulder and elbow using excessive force to push a blunt "duck knife" through shrink wrap he was removing from a pallet of wine bottles. He needed surgery, and hasn't worked since the incident.

Justice Jacinta Forbes found the worker's injury was caused by the "intrinsic nature" of his role, and his employer at the relevant time, Best Bottlers Pty Ltd, failed to identify or take steps to control the risks.
Read more: Young v SMYBB Pty Ltd (t/as Best Bottlers Pty Ltd) [2021] VSC 445 (30 July 2021). Source: OHSAlert. 

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