VIC Court of Appeal doubled fine over worker’s death

An equipment hire company has been convicted and fined a total of $500,000 after a worker was killed when an elevating work platform rolled down the tray of a truck, tipped and crushed him.

Victoria’s Court of Appeal on Monday imposed the fine which was increased from the $250,000 penalty given by the County Court in 2010 and subsequently appealed by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The 44-year-old victim was crushed to death at work at Dandenong in February 2007.

According to the Court of Appeals, the equipment hire company had two prior convictions and should have been more vigilant to ensure that no further breaches happen. The Court of Appeals also found the company failed to enforce and disseminate its own safety procedure.

The court in its judgment said the breach was equivalent to a very high degree of culpability.

The Court of Appeal consented the County Court’s finding that the company has disregarded the safety of its workers.

WorkSafe’s Executive Director for Health and Safety, Ian Forsyth, said the case showed the disastrous results of having safety policies and procedures but not applying them.

“The increase in penalty is welcome, but it does not take away from the fact that a preventable death has occurred.

“All other employers need to act now to review their situation, whether or not they use external contractors.

“WorkSafe’s experience in dealing with many serious workplace or those which exist in your industry has positive outcomes.

“Not doing so means other workers are exposed to extreme danger and companies can face enormous commercial consequences.”

The company which employed the victim was convicted and fined $130,000 in 2010. Another company was also convicted and fined $50,000 in 2010 in relation to the incident.

More information on improving workplace safety can be accessed through WorkSafe Victoria’s website.

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