A free-range egg producer has been convicted and fined $230,000 following the death of a contractor in an incident involving a front end loader at Navarre, near Stawell.
Grampians Free Range Poultry pleaded guilty in the Horsham County Court to contravening section 26 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act by failing to provide a workplace that was safe and without risk to health.
The court heard that on Sunday, May 29, 2016, the 73-year-old contractor arrived at the property to continue a construction project, which included boring holes with an auger fitted to the back of the loader.
His body was later found 10 metres from the loader, which had stopped after colliding with a small forklift.
There were no witnesses to the incident, but a post mortem later concluded the cause of the man’s death was multiple crush injuries consistent with being run over by machinery.
The court heard a WorkSafe investigation uncovered numerous mechanical and maintenance issues with the loader, including a broken starter ignition.
This meant that in order to start the vehicle, an operator was required to lean over the engine, either from the cabin or the side of the chassis, to connect a lead to the battery.
WorkSafe Acting Executive Director Health and Safety Paul Fowler said poorly maintained machinery posed a serious risk to worker safety.
“Machinery that is in such poor condition that it requires a work-around to operate is not safe to use,” Mr Fowler said.
“Employers must ensure regular maintenance is carried out with reference to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
“Older machinery may also need to have improvements retro-fitted to meet new industry safety standards or be upgraded where necessary.”
Tips for maintaining and using machinery and tractors:
• Ensure maintenance is carried out in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines.
• When performing maintenance such as checking batteries, do not jump start a machine while at ground level and ensure the hand brake is on and the vehicle is out of gear.
• Ensure all workers receive appropriate induction and training and that a register of this is maintained on file.
• Implement an effective communication system between machinery operators, transport contractors and ground staff.