Komatsu Australia Pty Ltd, an international earthmoving equipment company, has been fined $375,000 after a worker received multiple severe injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, while servicing a bulldozer. In 2016, the company supplied earthmoving equipment, parts and maintenance to Veolia Environmental Services Pty Ltd, and in 2017, a field service technician employed by Komatsu was reinstalling a cooling system to the bulldozer. During the service, a ‘belly plate’ weighing more than 230 kilograms fell on the technician’s face and head, leading to multiple injuries.
Valerie Griswold, Executive Director of Investigations & Enforcement for SafeWork New South Wales (SafeWork NSW), said the court found the risk of a worker suffering serious injury or death as a result of being struck or crushed by the belly plate of a bulldozer was an obvious and known risk. “A risk assessment for the winch system holding up the belly plate had identified the risk of failure of the winch bracket; however, it failed to identify the risk of the wire rope snapping,” Griswold said.
According to Griswold, this was the first time the technician had undertaken this specific task on a Komatsu bulldozer. The worker should have been trained on how to safely perform the task, and received no information or instruction, with disastrous consequences. The court found that the implementation of a safe work procedure for bulldozers fitted with the winch system and the provision of information, instruction and training to workers in the procedure did not involve significant cost to the Defendant. The company can appeal the decision.
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