Category : Incidents & Prosecutions

12 Jul 2018

Egg farm fined $230,000 following fatality

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.

08 May 2018

Farmer dies after being struck by trailer

A man in his 70s has died after being run over by a trailer at a property near Ouyen.

 

It is believed the man was standing alongside the moving trailer, feeding hay to sheep when he was knocked to the ground about 9.30pm on Monday.

 

The trailer was attached to a ute.

 

WorkSafe is investigating.

 

The fatality brings the number of confirmed workplace deaths this year to ten, and is the sixth to occur on a farm.

 

 WorkSafe Acting Executive Director Health and Safety Paul Fowler once again urged farmers to put safety first.

 

"Tragically, many on-farm fatalities involve people doing tasks they have done many times before, but experience doesn't prevent injuries or deaths," he said.

 

"WorkSafe is urging farmers to think about the tasks they do each day and whether they can be carried out more safely, for their own sake and the sake of their loved ones."

01 May 2018

Housing sites on notice to reduce the risk of falls

WorkSafe inspectors are focusing on fall hazards in an effort to reduce the number of workers injured at housing construction sites.

Since February 1 this year, 40 serious incidents involving falls at construction sites have been reported to WorkSafe.

These include the following incidents, which occurred on building sites in April:

  • A man who fell and broke his leg after catching his foot between the rungs of a ladder at Inverloch.
  • A man who fractured ribs after falling three metres through a void at Fawkner.
  • A man who received concussion after falling 2.4 metres when a truss gave way at a site in Caulfield North.

WorkSafe Acting Head of Hazardous Industries and Industry Practice Dermot Moody said falls were an ongoing issue within the housing construction sector.

“Even a fall from a low height can still lead to serious injury or a death,” Mr Moody said.

"Employers in the housing sector have the same responsibilities as those on any other site to identify risks and ensure correct safety measures are in place.

“Our inspectors will be reminding them of this when they visit housing sites this month.”

Mr Moody said WorkSafe inspectors would not hesitate to take enforcement action where they identified the risk of a fall, or where safe work method statements were not in place for high risk construction tasks.

“Control measures for fall risks are well known and readily available, so there is no excuse not to have them in place.”

Employers can control the risk of falls by:

  • Eliminating the risk by doing all or some of the work on the ground or from a solid construction.

The remaining risk can be reduced by:

  • Fall prevention devices like scaffolds, perimeter screens, guardrails, elevated work platforms or safety mesh.
  • Travel-restraint systems, industrial rope-access systems, catch platforms and fall arrest harness systems.
  • Using a ladder or administrative controls.

For more information go to worksafe.vic.gov.au.

24 Apr 2018

Ricegrowers Ltd fined $260,000 following maintenance worker’s death

Agricultural processor Ricegrowers Ltd has been convicted and fined $260,000 following the death of a maintenance worker at a stock feed plant in Tongala.

Ricegrowers pleaded guilty to one count of failing to provide or maintain plant that was, so far as reasonably practical, without risks to health and safety.

The Melbourne County Court heard the 53-year-old man was performing maintenance on the inside of a surge bin at the time of the incident in September, 2014.

He died when the wooden plank he was standing on snapped, causing him to fall onto a sensor-activated screw conveyor at the bottom of the bin.

The court heard there was no emergency stop button within reach of the surge bin’s access plate that would have allowed an observer to stop the screw conveyor in the event it started operating during maintenance.

WorkSafe Acting Executive Director Health and Safety Paul Fowler said employers must ensure protective devices such as override buttons and guards are in place to prevent workers being caught in moving plant during maintenance work.

“It is absolutely unacceptable for workers to be exposed to horrific injuries or death because of improperly maintained or unsafe plant,” he said.

“These types of incidents have tragic consequences for workers, their families and friends, and WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute employers who fail to protect people from unsafe plant.”

Safety measures to prevent injuries from operating plant include:

  • Ensuring emergency stop buttons are in within reach of observers
  • Using isolation procedures such as lockout devices when clearing blockages or servicing and maintaining machinery and equipment
  • Ensuring guards are in the correct place during and after any repair or maintenance
  • Installing fitted guards, fences, barriers or interlocked gates so moving parts cannot be touched and workers cannot be struck by ejected items
  • Ensuring pre-operation checks are carried out on interlocking and emergency systems.

 

For more information visit www.worksafe.vic.gov.au

 

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