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Contractor crushing death leads to $250K in fines for trio

Thursday 07, Jan 2021

Two companies and a director have been fined $250,000 after a contractor was crushed by a moving trailer inside a mill tunnel in 2018. Olam Orchards Pty Ltd, Complete Commodity Management Pty Ltd (CCM) and CCM director Desmond Brown have been fined a total of $250,000 after a contractor died in Victoria when he was run over by a trailer at a Mildura almond processor in 2018. Both companies pleaded guilty to one charge each of failing to ensure persons other than employees were not exposed to risks to their health or safety.

Olam has been ordered to pay $75,000 and CCM $150,000 to local charities. Brown pleaded guilty to one charge of failing as an officer of CCM to take reasonable care to ensure persons other than employees were not exposed to risks to their health and safety and was ordered to donate $25,000. Each party was also ordered to pay $4481 in costs.

The incident occurred in 2018, when Olam engaged CCM to deliver almonds to its Mildura processor, which included tractors with trailers attached moving in and out of a mill tunnel where the trailers were unloaded. On 6 April 2018, a 24-year-old labour hire worker contracted to CCM was tasked with clearing blockages preventing almonds from being unloaded. The worker was standing between two trailers inside the tunnel when he was crushed to death by a moving trailer.

WorkSafe Victoria Acting Executive Director of Health and Safety Adam Watson said workers are often put at risk because well-known safety steps, such as separating employees from mobile machinery, are not followed. “When a worker is struck by large, moving objects it can cause serious injuries and, tragically in this case, death,” Watson said. “Every employer has a duty to reduce or eliminate the risks to employees in high-traffic areas for vehicles.”

WorkSafe Victoria has urged employers using mobile plant to ensure a traffic management plan is in place for pedestrians and powered mobile plant, and that it is reviewed and updated as appropriate. Employers are also urged to ensure pedestrians are separated from moving machinery and that an effective communication system between operators, transport contractors and ground staff is in place.

Signage, including speed restrictions, must also be in place, with barriers erected where appropriate. Employers must also ensure that visibility issues are identified and controlled, particularly if lighting is poor. Workers operating equipment must also have the appropriate high-risk work licences, as required.

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