Prosecutions

Company fined $300K for fatality

An engineering company was last week fined $300,000 following an incident in which a worker was fatally crushed at a Leitchville factory in 2017.

Andrew Buchanan Engineering Ltd was sentenced without conviction in the Melbourne County Court after earlier pleading guilty to two charges of failing to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that the workplace under its management and control was safe and without risks to health.

The company had been engaged to oversee the dismantling and packing of equipment at a decommissioned cheese factory for relocation to New Zealand. However there was no representative from Andrew Buchanan Engineering on site when a condenser weighing 770 kilograms was moved into a closed-top shipping container with a crane in December 2017.

Two workers were inside the container preparing to remove skates from underneath the condenser when it fell off a jack and crushed them. A 59-year-old man died at the scene while another man was seriously injured.

A WorkSafe investigation found that there were reasonably practicable measures available to reduce or eliminate risk associated with the task, including using an open-top or flat rack shipping container. The company also failed to ensure that the workers packing equipment were appropriately supervised.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said it is crucial that duty holders ensure proper plans are in place before high-risk work commences. "WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute duty holders who fail to do all that is reasonably practicable to protect health and safety in workplaces under their management or control," Dr Beer said.

A-1 Engineering Pty Ltd has also been charged and is due to appear in the Bendigo County Court for an application on 2 February 2022. Source: WorkSafe media release 

Meat processor fined $400K after stockman's death

Meat processing company Midfield Meat Pty Ltd has been convicted and fined $400,000 following the death of a worker on a property at Dunkeld in 2017.

The company was sentenced in the Melbourne County Court this week after being found guilty in October of failing to provide a safe working environment.

In December 2017, an experienced stockman was directed to draft and weigh cattle owned by the company on a third-party's farm. The court heard he was working alone in an enclosed yard before he was later found dead after what was a suspected attack by a highly agitated stag. 

A jury found that it was reasonably practicable for Midfield Meat to have had a system in place to ensure that someone else would be present to provide assistance in the event of an emergency.

WorkSafe Executive Director Health and Safety Narelle Beer said being crushed or trampled by cattle was the second most common cause of deaths on Victorian farms. "This incident is a tragic example of the dangers faced by those working in agriculture and why employers and workers always need to be thinking about safety first," Dr Beer said. "Whatever job you or your workers are doing on a farm, please consider what could go wrong, discuss it with your workers and take action to make sure you're providing a safe workplace." 

Midfield Meats Pty Ltd has had a number of health and safety prosecutions and has featured in a number of media articles looking at the working conditions of visa holders. Read more: The Monthly 

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

Other Prosecutions

WA: Construction company fined $320K over death of young worker

Industrial Construction Services Pty Ltd (ICS) was fined $320,000 and ordered to pay $22,212 in costs after a 2017 incident in which a young worker fell to his death. The 17-year-old worker was killed after he fell through a void in the roof of an internal atrium at the old GPO building during the construction of the H&M store in Forrest Place, Perth. The company was found guilty of failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment and, by that failure, causing the death of the young worker. The charge carries a maximum fine of $400,000.

ICS was engaged as a subcontractor to construct and install a steel and glass atrium roof between the second and third floors in the central area of the building, which was the final stage in the project to refurbish the heritage landmark building and convert it into an H&M store. On 4 January 2017, workers were on night shift, installing the glass panels in the atrium roof. At around 4.15 am on 5 January, the worker fell through an open void in the atrium framework to the ground floor, around 12 metres below.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Darren Kavanagh noted that ICS failed to have a safe fall injury prevention system in place, that there were several open voids in the framework and that workers were required to work in close proximity to these voids. The company also failed to complete an adequate risk assessment for the glass installation and implement a safe work method statement. “The tragic death of this young worker should remind everyone of the importance of having safe systems of work in place to prevent falls from height and actually using these safe systems,” he said. 

This case is the second of four before the courts that relate to this incident. Valmont (WA) Pty Ltd was fined $38,000 in August 2019 over this incident, and the director and manager of ICS will face court in April 2022. Source: Safety Solutions

UK: Builder jailed after deadly wall collapse: 

A builder has been jailed following an investigation into the death of a labourer on a site in Hampshire in 2019. Paramjit Singh, 48, was found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter following a two-week trial. He was sentenced to three years and three months on a gross negligence manslaughter charge. He was also sentenced to 20 months for criminal safety breaches, which he had admitted previously. The sentences will run concurrently.

The prosecution followed a joint investigation by the Hampshire Constabulary and the UK's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the death of a 64-year-old man, who had been working for Singh as an ‘odd job man’ on the demolition of a house. Singh had previously been the owner and manager of SAB Builders. The men had been hired by the house owner to clear the garden and garage to make way for an extension. On 16 July 2019, the day after he had demolished three walls of the garage, Singh returned to the site to demolish the final wall. The worker was on the other side of the wall when it collapsed onto him. No exclusion zones had been established.

Singh’s public liability and skills card expired after SAB Builders went bankrupt in 2015 and the company ceased trading. 
Source: Risks 1025

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