$140K PENALTY FOR FATAL TELEHANDLER SHOCK

Harmony Operations Australia has been fined $140,000 following the electrocution of a 29-year-old worker while operating a telehandler at a feedlot in 2020. The fatality occurred because the telehandler contacted overhead power lines while stacking hay bales.

The company pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to provide and maintain a working environment that was safe and without risks to health and one charge of failing to provide necessary information and instruction to enable employees to work safely.

The court heard workers received training that did not cover the risk of power line contact, finding the company should have a three-metre exclusion zone around the power line, identified the exclusion zone as part of its system of work and provided information and instruction about the exclusion zone to workers.

WorkSafe subsequently emphasised employers handling machinery near power lines must identify them, follow safety rules, monitor weather conditions, create safe areas away from power lines, use warning signs, train workers about the risks, and consider advanced detection systems. Consulting with workers on safety procedures is crucial.

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