06:39 am, Friday 30 April, 2010
Melbourne has convicted a drilling company on Wednesday over the death of a worker in a vehicule accident, making it the State’s first reckless endangerment conviction.
The court fined the company $750,000 under section 32 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004.
In December 2006, a 21 year-old worker was driving a Mack truck at Clobnane when he lost control of the vehicle on a steep slope. The truck overturned, crushing the man to death.
The Court held the company failed to ensure adequate instruction and training to its worker to handle the truck off-road on a steep slope. The Court also found the company failed to ensure the truck was in proper working order.
At the time of the incident, the worker had held a license to drive a Mack truck for little more than two weeks – which involved only eleven hours of driving lessons. He was told to operate the overweight truck in off-road conditions on a slope exceeding 10 degrees.
The court found the newly certified driver was not trained to understand gear selection for this terrain. He hadn’t undergone an induction or safety training, and had not had the opportunity to hone his skills under supervision.
WorkSafe also presented evidence that the truck’s primary brake and the emergency hand brake wasn’t working, and the secondary brake had been disconnected. In addition, the truck hadn’t been serviced for over six months.
“If the truck had been in proper working order and Bradley had been a properly qualified and experienced driver, there’s no reason why this task couldn’t have been safely completed,” WorkSafe Victoria’s Acting Executive Director for Health and Safety Stan Krpan said.
“The investigator who managed this case has told me this is the worst example of failing to maintain vehicles or machinery that he has seen in 24 years on the job.
“The prosecution was able to prove that through the actions of the company’s personnel, the company was recklessly indifferent to placing Bradley Alford at risk of serious injury because he was instructed to use an unsafe truck in particularly dangerous circumstances,” he said.
County Court Judge Felicity Hampbell, who sentenced the case, stated:
“A case such as this is a stark reminder that behind every occupational health and safety prosecution is a real person…someone’s sibling, child, spouse or friend, whose safety and wellbeing should at all times be the paramount concern of every employer.”
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