Prosecutions

Victoria: Importer charged after stone slab fatality 
WorkSafe has charged a stone importer after a worker was fatally crushed in April 2020 at a Dingley Village warehouse. The 34-year-old woman was killed after three stone slabs weighing up to 250 kilograms each fell on top of her as she was helping to unload a shipping container.

Australia Rong Hua Fu Pty Ltd, trading as RHF Stone, is facing three charges under section 21(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act for failing to provide or maintain a safe working environment.

WorkSafe alleges one breach section 21(2)(a) for failing to provide or maintain a safe system of work for the unloading of stone slabs, and a further two breaches of section 21(2)(a) for failing to provide or maintain safe plant, relating to a forklift being used at the time of the incident and racks used to store stone slabs at the warehouse. The incident occurred before the introduction of  new section of the OHS Act: Workplace Manslaughter. While we do not know all the circumstances in this incident, the risks to workers would have been clear had any form of risk assessment been undertaken by the employer, and there may have been a level of negligence involved. 

The matter was listed for a filing hearing at the Melbourne Magistrates' Court on 28 February 2022. 

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

ACT: PCBU pleads guilty after worker killed 
Better Building Holdings Pty Ltd this week pleaded guilty to a Category 2 charge laid against it for the workplace death of a carpenter who fell over 6 metres at a worksite at Denman Prospect in 2020.

Sentencing will occur on 6 May 2022, before the Industrial Court Magistrate. The maximum fine for such a charge is currently $1.5 million. 

Acting Commissioner Amanda Grey is committed to firm enforcement and compliance actions for all work health and safety incidents, particularly in residential construction, and is pleased to see Better Building Holdings taking responsibility for this tragic incident. She said, “[The man's] death was preventable and my thoughts and condolences are with his family, friends and colleagues today.

“Every worker has the right to a safe workplace, and the right to return home safely. Charges like the ones that Better Building Holdings needed to respond to should be laid promptly and those who breach the WHS laws held to account. I’m glad to see Better Buildings Holdings take responsibility for its failure to provide a safe workplace for [the worker].”
Read more: at the time of the incident, WorkSafe ACT issued a Safety Alert. Source: Media release 

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