Carter Holt Harvey convicted after timber mill death

Thursday, 25 November, 2010

Carter Holt Harvey Woodproducts Australia, now part of BSG Holdings, was fined $120,000 after being charged under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 over a 2008 incident where a woman died when a 1.5 tonne timber pack hoist fell on her as she was dislodging a jammed piece of timber.

“Timber milling is high-risk work, so employers need to be providing the highest possible level of protection for their workers,” WorkSafe’s Executive Director for Health and Safety, Ian Forsyth, said. “We’d expect a company which is part of a major player in the forestry industry to be leading the way on health and safety - clearly this wasn’t the case.”

The incident happened when a hoist system, used to stack timber into packs, stopped moving when it became jammed by a piece of timber. The woman used a sledgehammer to dislodge the timber which was preventing the hoist from moving, causing the hoist to fall on her.

The sentencing comes as WorkSafe Victoria investigates three separate workplace fatalities in one week: a man died in hospital after an electric shock; another died after a crushing incident at a meatworks; and a sand quarry collapse claimed the life of an excavator operator.

“In these three incidents, and in the workplace fatality which occurred in Morwell, people went to work with the expectation of getting home safely at the end of the day,” Forsyth continued. “Employers must take more action to understand and control safety risks in their own workplaces.

“As an absolute basic requirement, employers should be training and supervising workers and taking all practicable steps to prevent safety incidents from happening.

“WorkSafe can provide help and support for individuals and workplaces through our workplace visits, website and telephone advisory service. That being said, we will continue to prosecute those who don’t live up to their responsibilities.”

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