Severe fine for SA company over workplace death

Wednesday, 10 December, 2008

The previous operating company of the Port Pirie smelter has been fined $65,000 and convicted of breaching workplace safety laws, following the death of a worker at the facility in 2004. The fine is at the highest end of the scale for penalties meted out for a single workplace death in South Australia.

Zinifex Port Pirie was found guilty at the SA Industrial Relations Court over the death of an employee in October 2004 who was struck and fatally injured by a front-end loader as he worked night shift in what was called the Co-Treatment Shed, where ore was being deposited.

The company (now known as Nyrstar) was found to have had breached Section 19(1) of the Occupational Health Safety and Welfare Act 1986, in that it failed to maintain a safe working environment, through a number of failings in its systems of work.

Industrial Magistrate Richard Hardy said that he found unacceptable the company’s stance that its safety measures at the time were in excess of what was required: “There is no indication of contrition and acceptance that the defendant has failed to ensure the safety of its employees so far as is reasonably practicable. I therefore treat this matter as a serious breach.”

The Magistrate did acknowledge that the company has learned from the incident: “The safety processes now in place have had an international effect throughout the defendant’s overseas enterprises."


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