Victorian hire company fined $85,000 after worker’s death

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Monday, 3 August, 2020 - 15:15
Incidents & prosecutions

An equipment hire company has been convicted and fined $85,000 following the death of a worker at its Braeside headquarters in Victoria.

United Access was sentenced in the Melbourne County Court following the August 2017 death of a worker who was thrown from a mobile elevated work platform (EWP).

The sentence follows a trial in the County Court in February where a jury found United Access guilty of failing to provide or maintain a safe working environment, and failing to ensure persons other than employees were not exposed to risk.

The court heard the deceased worker was in the process of loading an EWP onto a truck when a passing vehicle made contact with the EWP’s bucket.

As a result, the worker was ejected from the bucket and sustained serious head injuries. He later died in hospital.

The court was told regular loading and unloading of EWPs on the road in front of the premises by United Access employees and truck drivers created a risk of collision with passing motorists.

WorkSafe Victoria alleged the company failed to have a written system of work that required, as a default position, that loading and unloading of EWPs occurred within the premises or, where this was not reasonably practicable, a system of work that allowed safe loading or unloading in front of the site.

United Access also failed to have a written system of work that defined what additional precautions were necessary when loading or unloading occurred on the road, or communicate the system of work to truck drivers who attended the site.

The death was a tragic reminder of the importance of having safe systems of work in place and communicating them with both employees and contractors who enter worksites, said WorkSafe Victoria executive director of health and safety Julie Nielsen.

“It is critical that employers outline to workers the work that needs to be done, the potential risks involved and identify how the risks must be controlled,” she said.

“Not doing so means workers are exposed to extreme danger and employers can face enormous consequences.”