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NT: five charges laid over excavator fatality

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of members. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Date: 
Monday, 14 June, 2021 - 12:45
Category: 
Incidents & prosecutions
Location: 
Northern Territory

NT WorkSafe has laid five charges over the death of a 30-year-old worker who was fatally struck by an excavator bucket in 2019.

In April 2019, the worker drove a truck and float (flatbed trailer) to pick up a hired excavator from a plant hire business 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.

The worker was helping with the loading of an excavator when the smaller excavator bucket dislodged and struck the worker.

Titan Plant Hire Pty Ltd, trading as Territory Plant Hire, faces two charges, while the Director of Titan Plant Hire, Jason Frank Madalena, also faces two charges and Kim Murray, who operated the excavator at the time of the incident, faces one charge.

All five charges have been laid under Section 31 of the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011 for reckless conduct.

The first charge relates to Titan Plant Hire failing its primary duty of care under Section 19(2) of the Act, while the second charge is for failing to ensure its workplace was without risk to the health and safety of any person under Section 20(2) of the Act.

NT WorkSafe alleges that Titan Plant Hire knew, or should have known it was extremely hazardous to allow workers to work near, or around moving mobile plant. These hazards included being hit by moving plant which could have resulted in serious injury or death.

NT WorkSafe further alleges that Titan Plant Hire:

  • did not have a safe system of work to keep workers and other visitors separated from moving plant;
  • did not provide an induction into the workplace or systematically check the qualifications of all workers or other visitors before allowing them to operate and load hired plant; and
  • did not supervise workers and other visitors, as they loaded the plant.

Mr Madalena faces two charges for failing to exercise due diligence under Section 27 of the Act which allowed Titan Plant Hire to breach its duties.

NT WorkSafe alleges that as a company director, Mr Madalena failed to ensure Titan Plant Hire had appropriate resources and processes in place to manage the risks in the workplace. It is further alleged that Mr Madalena failed to verify that Titan Plant Hire was using appropriate resources and the implemented processes to manage the risks in the workplace.

Mr Murray was employed by a separate company to load the hired excavator and faces one charge for failing his duties as a worker under Section 28(b) of the Act.

NT WorkSafe alleges that although Mr Murray was a qualified and experienced plant operator, he operated the excavator when another worker was in the strike radius of the excavator and within the fall radius of unrestrained excavator buckets.

It is further alleged that Mr Murray had no visibility of the worker when the fatal incident occurred.

If found guilty, Titan Plant Hire faces a maximum combined penalty of $6 million.

Mr Madalena, as an officer of the company, faces a maximum combined penalty of $1.2 million or five years prison or both.

Similarly, Mr Murray faces a maximum penalty of $300,000 or five years in prison or both.