A dairy company which allowed its employees to drive quad bikes with defective brakes and without wearing helmets was fined $40,000 in the Colac Magistrates’ Court last month.
Foscor Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to three counts of breaching the 2004 OHS Act over its failure to provide and maintain plant and a system of work for its employees that was, so far as was reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health.
WorkSafe laid the charges following an investigation into the death of a farm worker who was killed by a prime mover as he crossed the Timboon-Colac Rd at Bungador driving one of the company’s quad bikes. The incident took place on 4 February 2014.
The court was told that the worker had left the employee residence on one side of the road and was crossing to a dairy on the opposite side when he was hit by the prime mover. The speed limit on the road was 100km/h. The worker was not wearing a helmet.
Following the man’s death, a WorkSafe investigation revealed that both quad bikes on the dairy farm had brake defects and employees did not wear helmets when operating them.
While WorkSafe did not allege that the fatality was caused by the brakes failing to work properly or by a helmet not being worn, the court heard employees were not required to wear helmets while operating the bikes, and that the company knew the brakes on both bikes were faulty and had been poorly maintained.
The company was sentenced without conviction and ordered to pay a fine of $40,000 and costs of $5051.
WorkSafe’s Executive Director of Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, said the death of the farm worker was a tragedy.
“This man had only recently arrived in Australia from the UK with his girlfriend to begin a working holiday of a lifetime. Instead, his girlfriend, family and friends are now living with a lifetime of grief,” Ms Williams said.
Ms Williams said poorly maintained quad bikes significantly increased operator risks.
“Quad bikes may be an important farm tool, but they are involved in a significant number of workplace deaths and injuries on farms across the state,” she said.
“Too often, operators aren’t trained in their use, helmets aren’t worn, bikes aren’t adequately maintained or they aren’t used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
“In many cases, quad bikes aren’t even the right tool for the job. But if they are, basic maintenance, which includes properly maintained brakes and appropriately inflated tyres, is essential.
”If you own a quad bike, don’t risk your life, or that of a family member or an employee by failing to take safety seriously. Or you, too, may face a lifetime of pain.”
For information on quad bike safety, go to worksafe.com.au
Public enquiries: Call the WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 between 8:30am and 5pm Monday to Friday, email email@example.com or write to Advisory Service, PO Box 4306, Melbourne, 3001.