Company which almost killed a worker gets off with an enforceable undertaking
M C Earthmoving Pty Ltd (MCE) supplied earthmoving equipment and operators. It was engaged by another company to supply operators and plant to excavate, hail and place overburden at a Fulton Hogan Quarries Pty Ltd quarry in Tynong Norththe workplace, and provided and operated the equipment identified as Haul Truck 2 (HT2).
On 29 April 2019, a 31 year old employee was operating on a HT2 with a second employee to manually grease underneath and on the chassis of the vehicle, as the automatic greasing system had malfunctioned. The process required an employee to use a spanner to take the caps off the grease nipples on HT2, and then apply the grease.
Whilst the first worker was removing the grease nipple caps against the chassis behind the offside wheel of HT2, the second worker turned the front steer wheel to the right. This pinned the first worker between the wheel and the chassis.
The injured man was in a coma for seven days and in hospital for 22 days. His injuries included a fractured trachea, scapula and ribs, brain injuries and loss of voice. He also contracted sepsis and pneumonia while in hospital.
The company failed to minimize the risk of crushing by not ensuring the greasing of HT2 was done solely by the operator of HT2, that the engine of HT2 was turned off during greasing and that lockout/tagout or similar plant isolation systems were employed.
On 3 March 2022, at the Dandenong Magistrates’ Court, the charge of breaching s21(1) of the OHS Act against MCE was withdrawn after the company entered into an Enforceable Undertaking (EU) (as per s16 of the Act). The EU involved three undertakings over the course of 18 months as follows:
- MCE will be commissioning and supplying a fully serviceable Mobile Safety Training Trailer to the Civil Contractors Federation (CCF) Victoria;
- MCE will be supplying the necessary training equipment for the MST Trailer to enable CCF Victoria to deliver the CCF Courses; and
- MCE will commission CCF Victoria to develop a case study of the incident for use in future safety courses such as the Mobile Plant Risk Assessment course.
It is estimated the total cost of the EU will total $96,770.00. CFF is an industry body representing the civil construction industry in Victoria.
`The VTHC and our affiliates have serous concerns with Enforceable Undertakings: the inappropriateness of some of the measures, the lack of consultation with relevant unions, and more. We have taken the matter up with WorkSafe on a number of occasions.
Charges over shipping container crushing fatality
A stone benchtop business has been charged by WorkSafe after a man was fatally crushed at a Campbellfield factory in February 2020.
Best Benchtop and Stone Pty Ltd is facing three charges under section 26 of the OHS Act for failing to ensure that a workplace was safe and without risks to health.
It follows the death of a man who was helping the company's director unload a shipping container when approximately 30 stone slabs weighing 220 kilograms each fell on top of him.
WorkSafe alleges it was reasonably practicable for the company to take measures to reduce the risk of the slabs falling during the unloading process and causing serious injury or death to persons carrying out tasks inside the container.
The matter is listed for a filing hearing at the Melbourne Magistrates' Court on 9 March 2022.
Freight company charged after worker crushed to death
WorkSafe has charged a freight transport company after a worker was fatally crushed while unloading sections of large steel light poles from a truck at Altona North in June 2020.
The 56-year-old worker was killed when two of the sections became unstable and fell off the truck and on top of him.
Norman Carriers (Aust) Pty Ltd faces two charges under section 21(1) of the OHS Act for failing to, so far as reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a safe working environment. Specifically, WorkSafe alleges the company breached:
- section 21(2)(a) by failing to provide or maintain a safe system of work that would eliminate or reduce the risk of loads becoming unstable and falling from a truck.
- section 21(2)(e) of the Act by failing to provide information, instruction and training that would enable workers to unload trucks safely.
The matter is listed for a filing hearing at the Melbourne Magistrates' Court on 15 March 2022.
Note: both these fatalities occurred before the Workplace Manslaughter laws came into effect on July 1, 2020.