An appeal over the inadequacy of a fine handed out to a recycling company following the death of an employee in 2012 has been upheld in the County Court.
City Circle Recycling Pty Ltd was convicted and fined $425,000 over the death of a worker who was run over by a front end loader at its recycling depot in the Melbourne suburb of Brooklyn.
It had originally been convicted and fined $225,000 in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court in September 2014 after pleading guilty to two charges under the 2004 Occupational Health and Safety Act - failing to provide a safe system of work and failing to provide appropriate information, instruction, training or supervision. It was also ordered to pay costs of $14,233.
The Director of Public Prosecutions lodged an appeal against the sentence and, in the County Court last week, the company had its fine increased to $425,000.
The court heard that on 12 December, 2012, an employee was working as a load inspector in the depot’s tipping area when a colleague driving a Kawasaki ZV95 front end loader reversed over him. The man suffered severe injuries and died at the scene.
The court was told that the company had no systems in place to reduce the risk of machines colliding with workers on foot in the tipping area.
It also heard that there were a number of reasonably practicable measures that could have been used to improve safety in the area, such as the use of defined walkways and barriers to separate pedestrians from machinery, the mandatory use of two-way radios between foot traffic and machinery drivers, and a written traffic management plan.
The court heard that the company had also failed to provide employees with appropriate training and supervision to enable them to perform their work in a way that eliminated or reduced the risk of being struck by machinery in the tipping area.
Executive director of Health and Safety, Len Neist, said the company had failed to take simple, basic precautions to protect employees working in close proximity to heavy machinery.
“Employees working on foot around heavy machinery without appropriate training and safety systems in place are a recipe for disaster,” Mr Neist said.
“The hazard you walk past and do nothing about becomes the risk you are willing to accept and hence expose workers to.
“The load inspector had a right to expect that his health and safety at work would be his employer’s number one priority. Tragically, this was not the case.
“That failure was recognised in the County Court decision to increase the fine and we hope it brings a small measure of comfort to the worker’s family, friends and colleagues.”
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