Arborist fined after worker struck by wood chipper hood

Monday, 25 March, 2024

Arborist fined after worker struck by wood chipper hood

An Alice Springs arborist has been convicted and fined $25,000 following an incident in which a worker was seriously injured after being struck by the hood of a wood chipper that had detached while the machine was operating. In November 2022, Petr Van Der Pasch, trading as Petals Pruning Perfection and Tree Removals, was working at a private residence removing tree branches with two workers when the incident occurred.

An investigation by NT WorkSafe revealed that the wood chipper was damaged almost two months earlier following a road incident; subsequent in-house repairs had failed to return the machine to a safe standard. Four days before the incident, a worker raised safety concerns about the wood chipper after noticing the thread bolt used in the repairs was missing. Despite this and the fact that only a fan belt was holding the hood in place, the wood chipper was still used.

Van Der Pasch pleaded guilty to two alternative charges under section 32 of the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011 for failing his primary duty of care and putting two of his workers at risk of serious injury or death. The Northern Territory’s Work Health and Safety Regulator, Peggy Cheong, said the incident is a timely reminder for employers to take all safety concerns seriously, and where safety concerns have been raised, to take immediate steps to verify and address the issues. Cheong added that the incident could have been avoided if the wood chipper hood was fixed properly, when the issue had been raised four days before the incident.

“The incident is also a timely reminder for all employers to not attempt in-house repairs or maintenance unless the worker you are asking to do the work is competent. Under the work health and safety laws, a competent person is defined as a person who has acquired through training, qualification or experience the knowledge and skills to carry out the task. It is vital that workers tasked with maintaining or repairing machinery or equipment are competent to ensure the machinery or equipment are safe to use,” Cheong said.

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