Quarry company convicted and fined $650,000 after worker dies

Tuesday, 15 December, 2009

Charged with two counts laid under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Barro Group was convicted and fined $650,000 after being found guilty of failing to provide a safe system of work; and failing to provide adequate instruction, training or supervision to its employees following the death of a worker in 2005.

Melbourne County Court Judge Phillip Coish ordered the company to pay a $400,000 fine for failing to provide a safe system of work and $250,000 for failing to provide adequate instruction, training or supervision to its employees.

A jury was told that a worker who was changing a 1.3 tonne steel liner on a rock crusher died when it fell from its mounts, crushing him at Barro’s Donnybrook quarry, north of Melbourne.

The conviction and fine was welcomed by WorkSafe’s Executive Director, John Merritt, who said it should send a clear message of deterrence to the mining and quarry industry: “Ensuring safe systems are in place and being used is a fundamental issue for any business. It’s not enough to rely on someone’s skill and experience and hope for the best.

“In this case a man has died in dreadful, yet preventable, circumstances and while safety improvements were made later, it’s likely the incident would not have happened if they were in place earlier.”

Judge Coish commented that while it was relevant that Barro relied on another company - Extec Sales and Distribution Australia - to provide safe machinery and an adequate instruction manual, it was not relieved of its legal duties.

In sentencing the company, Judge Coish said the foreseeable consequences of Barro’s failure to act were “grave”. He said its culpability was high as the system used to remove the steel rock crusher lining was radically different from any other.

He said any proper hazard identification would have resulted in a reassessment of the system for changing the steel jaw liners.

Extec Sales and Distribution Australia was convicted and fined $140,000 for failing to make adequate information available about the use of the C12 rock crusher in June this year.

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