Charges laid over death in Victorian milk processing plant

Tuesday, 10 December, 2019

Charges laid over death in Victorian milk processing plant

WorkSafe Victoria has charged Big Hill Cranes, Cobram-based company A-1 Engineering and an engineer, following an accident at a decommissioned milk factory in Leitchville, near Echuca, Northern Victoria. A 59-year-old man was killed and another man seriously injured in the incident, where a condenser that had been craned into a shipping container fell in 2017. WorkSafe alleges that Big Hill Cranes failed to ensure that their work did not expose people to risks to their health and safety. The crane company has been charged with four offences under section 23(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (the Act), which allege that the company failed to ensure crane loads were not suspended over people, eliminate the risk of heavy equipment falling while being moved inside the shipping container, ensure that loads were lifted in a controlled manner and carry out a risk assessment.

WorkSafe has charged A-1 Engineering with six offences under sections 21(1) (a) and two offences under 21(1) and 21(2) (e) of the Act, alleging that the company failed to ensure employees were appropriately qualified and experienced, provide a supervisor or supervision to ensure the work was carried out safely and provide necessary information, instruction and training to enable the work to be performed safely. The company also failed to: ensure that employees did not work under suspended loads; provide a system that eliminated risks while loading heavy equipment into an enclosed shipping container; take measures to ensure heavy equipment would not fall; and ensure that loads were lifted in a controlled manner. The company also failed to undertake a risk assessment.

The engineer was not present when the incident occurred, but was charged with four offences under sections 144(1) of the Act for failing to take reasonable care as the manager or controller of the workplace. It is alleged that the engineer failed to provide a safe workplace and a safe system of work for moving heavy machinery, ensure people were qualified for the work, ensure there was a supervisor onsite in his absence and undertake a risk assessment of the work required. The matter will be addressed at a filing hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on 18 December 2019.

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