VIC: $300,000 fine issued for company after worker crushed

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.
Tuesday, 14 December, 2021 - 12:00
Incidents & prosecutions

An engineering company in Victoria has been fined $300,000 following an incident in which a worker was fatally crushed at a Leitchville factory in 2017.

Andrew Buchanan Engineering was sentenced without conviction in the Melbourne County Court after earlier pleading guilty to two charges of failing to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that the workplace under its management and control was safe and without risks to health.

The court heard the company had been engaged to oversee the dismantling and packing of equipment at a decommissioned cheese factory for relocation to New Zealand.

However, there was no representative from Andrew Buchanan Engineering on-site when a condenser weighing 770 kilograms was moved into a closed-top shipping container with a crane in December 2017.

Two workers were inside the container preparing to remove skates from underneath the condenser when it fell off a jack and crushed them.

A 59-year-old man died at the scene while another man was seriously injured.

A WorkSafe investigation found that there were reasonably practicable measures available to reduce or eliminate the risk associated with the task, including using an open-top or flat rack shipping container.

The company also failed to ensure that the workers packing equipment were appropriately supervised.

WorkSafe Victoria executive director of health and safety Narelle Beer said it is crucial that duty holders ensure proper plans are in place before high-risk work commences.

“Workers must be provided with clear instructions on how to perform tasks safely, especially when working with heavy machinery.”

“WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute duty holders who fail to do all that is reasonably practicable to protect health and safety in workplaces under their management or control,” Beer said.

A-1 Engineering Pty Ltd has also been charged and is due to appear in the Bendigo County Court for an application on 2 February 2022.