Death of 18 year-old a wake-up call for employers

A husband and wife manufacturing partnership were sentenced today following the death of an 18 year-old worker at a Thomastown cardboard packaging factory in February 2009.
News article published

Thursday 09 Dec 2010

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The death of the MillPark man, who was dragged into an exposed roller on a machine that printed and stacked cardboard, was described by Magistrate Sarah Dawes as “the sudden, unexpected and agonising loss of a son and brother.”

Gary Reid trading as Advanced Cartons was convicted under two sections of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 and fined $60,000. Cheryl Reid trading as Advanced Cartons faced one charge under the Act and was not convicted.

Mr and Mrs Reid were placed on good behaviour undertakings which require them to complete a managers’ safety training course.

The court heard the conveyor arm of the printing and stacking machine had been raised at a 90 degree angle, so workers could complete a specialist job. This action exposed the machine’s unguarded feed rollers.

The man was dragged into the rotating feed rollers by his clothing, and died from his injuries the following day.

“This was a young man at the start of his life, whose death could easily have been prevented if his workplace had stopped to consider his safety,” WorkSafe’s Executive Director for Health and Safety Ian Forsyth said.

“Following his death, guards and an interlocking system were installed on the machine at a cost of around $6,000.

“Tragically, this is the price that could have saved this young man’s life,” he said.

The court heard that Mr and Mrs Reid failed to conduct a risk assessment on the machine, imported from China, which would have identified the risks to workers. In addition, there was inadequate information, training and supervision for workers using the machine.

Mr Forsyth said all Victorian employers needed to take a careful look at how they train and supervise young workers.

“Young workers may lack the experience, knowledge or skills to understand the risks involved in the work they are doing.

“They are more likely to follow instructions without questioning them. Sometimes they struggle to speak up about safety even if they see that something at work isn’t safe.

“This is a wake-up call for employers, managers and supervisors to recognise their added responsibilities when employing young people, and make sure their risk assessment, training, and supervision practices reflect this,” he said.

Mr Forsyth said young workers had the highest rate of injury in the state when compared to other age groups.

Last year more than 2,500 young Victorian workers were injured badly enough on the job to make a worker’s compensation claim.


Mr Reid was convicted one two counts under the OHS Act 2004: one under section 21(1)&(2)(a) and one under section 21(1)&(2)(e). He was fined $60,000 and ordered to pay costs of $5,000.

Mrs Reid faced one count under section 21(1)&(2)(a). She was not convicted but was ordered to pay costs of $5,000.

Both Mr and Mrs Reid were placed on a good behaviour undertaking requiring them to undergo a managers’ safety training course.