Equipment hire company and director fined $1.14 million over excavator death

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Tuesday, 21 March, 2023 - 12:45
Incidents & prosecutions
Australian Capital Territory

A Darwin equipment hire company and its director have been fined a total of $1.14 million after a worker was killed loading an excavator in 2019.

In April 2019, the worker (Mr Beaumont) drove a prime mover and trailer to pick up a hired excavator from Territory Plant Hire previously located in the suburb of Wishart.

The excavator was fitted with a large excavator bucket that contained two smaller buckets and a ripper which were not restrained. During the loading of an excavator, the smaller excavator bucket dislodged, killing Mr Beaumont.

Titan Plant Hire Pty Ltd, trading as Territory Plant Hire, was fined $960,000 by the Darwin Local Court for the alternative charge under Section 32 of the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011 (the Act) for failing its primary duty of care.

Company director Jason Frank Madalena was fined $180,000 for the alternative charge under Section 32 of the Act failing to exercise due diligence under Section 27 of the Act which allowed Titan Plant Hire to breach its duty.

Charges were also initially laid against the excavator operator in 2021, however these charges were withdrawn when the operator passed away.

“This tragedy could have been easily avoided if Titan Plant Hire had appropriate systems in place to ensure the safe operating and loading of machinery and equipment which was being hired,” said the Northern Territory’s Work Health and Safety Regulator, Peggy Cheong.

“Equipment hire companies must have systems in place to induct workers and/or customers into the workplace and systematically check their qualifications before allowing them to operate and load hired machinery.

“Secondly all workplaces, whether they are a hire yard or construction site, must securely restrain excavator buckets and attachments before loading and transportation.

“Finally an exclusion zone should be in place around machinery when it is in operation to prevent the machinery from making contact with nearby workers,” said Cheong.

NT WorkSafe was also awarded costs totalling $55,000.