Court Of Appeal Doubles Fatality Fine To $500,000

A major hirer of industrial equipment, Coates Hire Operations Pty Ltd, has been convicted and fined $500,000 after a worker died when an elevating work platform rolled down the tray of a truck, tipped and crushed him.
News article published

Monday 25 Jun 2012

Industries and topics
  • Automotive
  • Transport, logistics and warehousing

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

The prosecution followed the death of a 44-year-old Cranbourne South man who was crushed at a Coates’ Hire business at Dandenong in February 2007.

The Court of Appeal said Coates Hire had two relevant prior convictions and should have been doubly vigilant to ensure no further breaches occurred. It also found the company failed to enforce and disseminate its own safety procedures.

In its judgment, the court said the breach equated to a very high degree of culpability.

The Court of Appeal affirmed the County Court's finding that Coates had shown a 'disregard for the safety of its workers'.

WorkSafe’s Executive Director for Health and Safety, Ian Forsyth, said the case illustrated 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 own situation, whether or not they use external contractors.

“WorkSafe’s experience in dealing with many serious workplace safety incidents every year is that most can be prevented at little or no cost.

“Dealing with the known and predictable hazards in your 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.”

Redline Towing and Salvage Pty Ltd, which employed the man who died, was sub-contracted by Coates to pick up and deliver plant on behalf of Coates was convicted and fined $130,000 in 2010.

Dandenong Heavy Haulage Pty Ltd was convicted and fined $50,000 in 2010 in relation to the incident. Dandenong Heavy Haulage also transports plant on behalf of Coates.