Prosecutions

Victorian Prosecutions

Company and director fined $320,000 after unprotected fall 
A residential building company and its director have been convicted and fined a total of $320,000 after a renderer was seriously injured when he fell 3.2 metres while working without fall protection.

Palladian Three Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Melbourne County Court last week after earlier being found guilty of a single charge of failing to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that the workplace was safe and without risks to health. It was convicted and fined $250,000.

Director Sach Sackl was also convicted and fined $70,000 after earlier being found guilty of a single charge of failing, as director, to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that the workplace was safe and without risks to health.

In October 2016, the renderer fell 3.2 metres to the ground while working from an unsecured plank on the exterior of the second floor of a unit under construction at Pascoe Vale. He was taken to hospital with serious injuries including a fractured skull and brain haemorrhage, broken ribs, a punctured lung, lacerated spleen, fractured arm and fractured ankle.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said the serious risks associated with working at heights are well-known and there is no excuse for failing to provide safe workplaces. "This was a blatant failure to protect workers, which sadly left one worker with significant injuries that could have easily been fatal," Dr Beer said. "Already this year there have been three deaths due to workplace falls. WorkSafe won’t hesitate to prosecute employers who fail in their duty of care to maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to health." Read more: WorkSafe media release

Metro Trains fined $100,000 after arc flash injury  
The operator of Melbourne's metropolitan rail system has been convicted and fined $100,000 (plus costs of $5971) after a worker suffered an electric shock while upgrading train lines in 2018.

Metro Trains Melbourne Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court last week after earlier pleading guilty to a single charge of failing to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that the workplace was safe and without risks to health.

In July 2018, a linesman sustained burns to his hand and required hospital treatment after a live wire caused an arc flash while he was installing a steel bracket on an overhead gantry near Kooyong Station.

The incident occurred during an electrical upgrade of the Glen Waverley line at the Glenferrie Road tram square, the level crossing where tram and train tracks intersect.

An investigation revealed a 600 volt feeder cable running into the intersection had not been isolated, because diagrams prepared for the work did not show where the live electrical assets were physically located.  Metro Trains failed to provide safe systems of work and the necessary information and training for identifying and isolating the tram squares; informing workers of the location of all electrical assets through sectionalised diagrams; and performing a site inspection where each asset was identified and isolated.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said the incident was an important reminder of the dangers of working with electricity. Read more: WorkSafe Victoria media release 

Abattoir fined $55,000 after worker hit by forklift load 
A meat processor has been fined after a worker was injured in a forklift incident at a Colac abattoir in 2019.

Australian Lamb (Colac) Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Colac Magistrates' Court last week after earlier pleading guilty to two charges of failing, so far as was reasonably practicable, to provide and maintain a working environment that was safe and without risks to health. The company was fined $55,000 without conviction.

In October 2019, the injured worker was standing at a sorting table in the 'skin shed', while another worker was operating a forklift nearby. The forklift driver was lifting a load of sheep skins 4-5 metres high into a drum for salting when the 500-600 kilogram metal basket slipped and fell to the ground, clipping the worker. He was knocked unconscious and taken to hospital with a broken bone in his spine and damage to a shoulder muscle.

WorkSafe found that there was inadequate information, training and supervision given to workers to ensure they kept a safe distance from elevated loads. There was also no formal traffic management plan in place for the skin shed, and no mechanism was provided to secure the metal basket to the forklift.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said employers must do everything they can to ensure safe work processes, especially when forklifts are involved.  "Forklifts are among the biggest causes of workplace injuries and deaths in Victorian workplaces," Dr Beer said. "Even an incident involving a slow-moving forklift can have serious consequences."
Read more: WorkSafe media release 

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

NT: PCBU charged with manslaughter, director could be jailed 
A Northern Territory PCBU that apparently failed to conduct a risk assessment for recovering a broken down mobile machine could be fined up to nearly $10.4 million, after being charged with the industrial manslaughter of a worker. This is the first industrial manslaughter prosecution brought in the Northern Territory. The offence was introduced in the Territory in 2019.

The PCBU's sole director could be jailed over the incident, after been charged with reckless conduct.

A 50-year-old worker was killed while performing work for the PCBU, Kalidonis NT Pty Ltd, in Maningrida in the Territory in March 2020. He was using an excavator to tow another, 36-tonne excavator, which had broken down, when the chain between the machines broke, recoiled and fatally struck him while he was sitting in his excavator's cabin.

In relation to the excavator fatality, alternative charges were also laid against Kalidonis NT: one under section 31 ("Reckless conduct – Category 1") of the WHS Act, and the other under section 32 ("Failure to comply with health and safety duty – Category 2"), with maximum available penalties of $3 million and $1.5 million respectively.

Further, the PCBU was charged with a category-2 breach of the Act in relation to an alleged incident involving the deceased worker that occurred eight days before the fatal incident, and the PCBU's director Theofilos Kalidonis was charged with a category-1 breach in relation to the fatality, for which he could be fined up to $600,000 and/or jailed for up to five years, and laid an alternative category-2 charge against him, which carries a maximum penalty of $300,000. The director was also charged with a category-2 breach in relation to the earlier incident. Source: OHSAlert

UK: Farmer sentenced after death of nephew 
The mother of a four-year-old boy who fell from a farm vehicle and was run over sustaining fatal injuries has called for a change in attitude in agriculture. Ms Sarah Nutter was commenting after farmer Brian Nutter was given a suspended prison sentence following the death of his nephew, Harry Lee.

Wigan Magistrates’ Court heard that on 8 July 2019, Harry was riding on the cab footplate of a telescopic handler driven by his uncle Brian at a farm in Newchurch-in-Pendle, Lancashire. As the vehicle turned into a field, Harry fell from the footplate and was fatally crushed beneath the wheels. The Prevention of Accidents to Children in Agriculture Regulations 1998 prohibit children under the age of 13 from riding on, or operating, vehicles used in agricultural operations. Furthermore no-one, including children, should ride on the footplate of any agricultural machine. Brian Nutter pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence and was given a 26-week prison sentence suspended for 18 months, a community order including 250 hours of unpaid work and was ordered to pay costs of £5,154.

The mother of the child, Ms Sarah Nutter said: “I hope the effects of Harry’s accident will change the attitude of people living on farms and make them think twice about the dangers their children are exposed to and how easily accidents can be avoided.” Read more: HSE news release

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