Engineering company fined $300K after fatal crush incident
Engineering company Andrew Buchanan Engineering Ltd has been fined $300,000, following an incident in which a worker was fatally crushed at a Leitchville factory in Victoria in 2017. The company was sentenced without conviction after pleading guilty to two charges of failing to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that the workplace under its management and control was safe and without risks to health.
The company was engaged to oversee the dismantling and packing of equipment at a decommissioned cheese factory, for relocation to New Zealand, when the incident occurred. However, there was no representative from Andrew Buchanan Engineering on site when a condenser weighing 770 kg was moved into a closed-top shipping container with a crane in December 2017.
Two workers were inside the container, preparing to remove skates from underneath the condenser, when it fell off a jack and crushed them. A 59-year-old man died at the scene, while another man was seriously injured. An investigation by WorkSafe Victoria revealed that there were reasonably practicable measures available that could have reduced or eliminated the risks associated with the task, including using an open-top or flat rack shipping container. The company also failed to ensure that the workers packing the equipment were appropriately supervised.
WorkSafe Victoria Executive Director of Health and Safety Dr Narelle Beer said it is crucial for duty holders to ensure proper plans are in place before high-risk work commences. “Workers must be provided with clear instructions on how to perform tasks safely, especially when working with heavy machinery. WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute duty holders who fail to do all that is reasonably practicable to protect health and safety in workplaces under their management or control,” said Dr Beer.
A-1 Engineering Pty Ltd has also been charged and will appear in the Bendigo County Court for an application on 2 February 2022.
To manage risks, WorkSafe Victoria urges duty holders to ensure that work involving lifting or suspending loads is thoroughly planned, to identify designated lifting areas, landing areas and load travel corridors. Duty holders should also ensure that the appropriate shipping container configuration is chosen for the specific piece of equipment being loaded or unloaded, and that an appropriate mechanical aid is selected to lift or move heavy machinery in a controlled manner. Workers must also receive the necessary instruction, training and supervision to enable them to perform high-risk tasks safely.
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