$150,000 fines imposed after deadly duck farm fall

The trustee of a duck farm operator and a maintenance contractor have each been fined $75,000 following the death of a worker at a property near Nhill.


The pair were convicted and fined on 27 June at Melbourne County Court following the March 2016 death of a man who fell from the bucket of a front end loader.

Friosal Enterprises trustee Glenn Fraser pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to provide and maintain systems of work that were safe and without risks to health.

Maintenance contractor Armand Von Benecke pleaded guilty, as a self-employed person, to a charge of failing to ensure persons other than employees were not exposed to risks.

The Court heard the deceased worker was hired by Von Benecke to help install winches to lift feeder and drinker lines in duck breeding sheds on the Gerang Gerung property operated by Friosal.

Von Benecke and the worker were using a front end loader in a shed to install winches on the centre roof truss, five metres above the ground.

The court heard Von Benecke was on the ground, chasing ducks away while the worker was in the loader’s bucket preparing the winch motor for fitting.

Von Benecke then leaned into the cabin and raised the bucket about three to four metres off the ground so the worker could check the fitting on the roof.

The worker fell to the ground and died at the scene.

WorkSafe investigations found that Friosal did not have an occupational health and safety policy and procedures manual and that Von Benecke did not have any OHS policy or procedures, or a documented procedure for the installation of electric winches and feeder lines to duck breeding sheds.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said the idea of using the bucket of a front end loader as an elevating work platform was seriously flawed.

"Falls from height are one of the biggest killers of Victorian workers. They happen on all kinds of sites and to people performing all types of tasks and employers need to have systems in place to prevent them."

"This tragic death is a terrible reminder of what can happen when employers don’t consider safety when they are thinking tasks through."

To prevent falls from height employers should first:

  • Consider if they can eliminate the risk by doing all or some of the work on the ground or from a solid construction.

If that is not possible, they should use:

  • A passive fall prevention device such as scaffolds, perimeter screens, guardrails, safety mesh or elevating work platforms.
  • A positioning system, such as a travel-restraint system.
  • A fall arrest system, such as a catch platform or safety nets.
  • A fixed or portable ladder or implement administrative controls.