Timber processing company D&R Henderson Pty Ltd has been fined $350,000 following an incident at their Benalla timber mill in May 2018 in which worker lost his life after becoming ensnared by a conveyor belt drive shaft.
The company was found guilty of failing to provide a safe workplace, resulting in a $275,000 fine for not implementing and maintaining safe work systems. Additionally, they received a $75,000 fine for neglecting to provide proper training and information to their workers.
The court heard the fatal incident could have been avoided by guarding the drive shaft or repositioning it to prevent worker contact. There were also no safe procedures in place for realigning conveyor belts, a task that workers had to perform while the machine was still running.
The company should have ensured that workers received sufficiently educated, instructed, trained, and supervised regarding risks associated with their work tasks and how to mitigate them.
The labour hire company, Recruitment Select Pty Ltd, which had provided the worker to D&R Henderson, had previously been fined $50,000 for their role in failing to establish a safe system of work.
Preventing workplace deaths requires employers identify hazards, provide training on safe machine operation, develop and implement safe operating procedures, ensure safety guards are in place, regularly service machines, and complement these measures with administrative controls such as warning signs and proper supervision that alert employees of risks to their very lives.