Olam Orchards Pty Ltd and Complete Commodity Management Pty Ltd (CCM) pleaded guilty in the Mildura Magistrates’ Court on Thursday last week to one charge each of failing to ensure persons other than employees were not exposed to risks to their health or safety.
The court ordered Olam to pay $75,000 and CCM $150,000 to local charities.
CCM director Desmond 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 court heard that in 2018, CCM was engaged by Olam to manage the delivery of 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 of that year, a 24-year-old labour hire worker contracted to CMM died when he was crushed by a moving trailer inside the tunnel.
The man was tasked with clearing blockages preventing almonds from being unloaded and had been standing between two trailers when the incident occurred.
WorkSafe Acting Executive Director of Health and Safety Adam Watson said there was no excuse for failing to protect workers from the known risks of mobile machinery.
"Too often workers are put at risk because well-known safety steps, such as separating employees from mobile machinery, are not followed," Mr Watson said.
"When a worker is struck by large, moving objects it can cause serious injuries and, tragically in this case, death.
"Every employer has a duty to reduce or eliminate the risks to employees in high traffic areas for vehicles."
Employers using mobile plant should ensure:
- A traffic management plan is in place for pedestrians and powered mobile plant and that it is reviewed and updated as appropriate.
- Pedestrians are separated from moving machinery and that an effective communication system between operators, transport contractors and ground staff is in place.
- Signage is in place, including speed restrictions, and barriers are erected where appropriate.
- Visibility issues are identified and controlled, particularly if lighting is poor.
- Workers operating equipment have the appropriate high risk work licences, as required.
- Machinery and vehicles are regularly inspected and maintained by a suitably qualified person.
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