Freight company fined $35,000 over truck driver’s death

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Thursday, 20 October, 2022 - 12:30
Incidents & prosecutions

A freight company has been fined following the death of a garbage truck driver at Epping in Victoria.

Tarantino Investments pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court to a single charge of failing to ensure that plant being used for a purpose for which it was supplied was safe and without risks to health.

The company was fined $35,000 without conviction and ordered to pay $7500 in costs.

In December 2019, a subcontracted truck driver was supplied with a side-loading trailer to transport a full shipping container from the company’s Brooklyn depot to a business in Epping.

After unloading the container, the driver noticed that one of the stabilising legs on the trailer’s crane did not fully retract using the remote control and used manual levers to retract it.

The driver then moved the truck to load an empty shipping container before driving back onto the road without realising that the rear stabilising leg had not fully retracted and was sitting parallel with the ground.

A short time later the protruding stabiliser leg collided with the cabin of a garbage truck travelling in the opposite direction, killing the garbage truck’s driver instantly.

An investigation found the wiring of the side loading trailer was in a poor state of repair, having suffered some previous structural damage, and the remote control having been repaired with duct tape and cable ties.

The court heard it was reasonably practicable for Tarantino Investments to have put in place a regular maintenance regime of the electrical and mechanical componentry of the trailer by a suitably qualified person; ensured that the control box and electrical componentry were in reasonable working condition; or replaced the control box and electrical componentry when regular maintenance issues arose.

“This company’s failure put other road users in extreme danger,” said WorkSafe Victoria director of health and safety Narelle Beer.

“Tragically, we have already seen 12 workers killed in vehicle accidents this year and WorkSafe will not hesitate to take strong action against duty holders refusing to control the known risks.”