A foundry and metal casting company has been fined $650,000 after a Wangaratta County Court jury found it guilty of failing to provide and maintain a safe plant, which resulted in an employee’s death.
According to WorkSafe Victoria, Bradken Resources Limited was convicted and fined in the Melbourne County Court on 10 July after the 10-day trial in Wangaratta County Court last month. The company was charged with a single breach of the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 following WorkSafe Victoria’s investigation into the 22 July 2014 death.
During the trial, the court heard that the deceased employee was operating a skid steer loader to move recently cast, heavy metal components into a cooling bin, when a 276 kg metal casting crashed through the skid steer windscreen and killed him. WorkSafe Victoria told the court the weight, heat and proximity of the castings created a risk that employees operating the loader could suffer burns, leading to serious injury or death.
Although there had been no prior incidents of a casting falling back onto a skid steer loader’s windscreen, the court heard Bradken knew, or ought to have known, this could happen from previous similar incidents. WorkSafe Victoria said the court heard it had been reasonably practicable for Bradken to reduce the risk using alternative machinery, such as a rock excavator, which would have increased the distance between employees and the castings.
Julie Nielsen, WorkSafe Victoria’s Health and Safety Executive Director, said the incident was a tragic reminder of the consequences that not having appropriate machinery and systems in place can have.
“Every family should expect that when their loved ones go off to work, their employer is doing their utmost to keep them safe,” Nielsen said. “This includes making sure they are using appropriate machinery and equipment and that measures are put in place to control risks as they are identified.
“WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute those employers who fail to do all that is reasonably possible to protect the health and safety of their workers.”
To reduce machinery hazards, WorkSafe Victoria recommend identifying all hazards associated with installing, erecting, commissioning, decommissioning, dismantling or using machinery. In assessing associated risks and eliminating or controlling those risks, WorkSafe Victoria makes the following recommendations: using an alternative, isolating the hazard, engineering a control, using protective equipment or implementing a work system that reduces the risk.
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