$35,000 fine after truck driver's death

A freight company has been fined following the death of a garbage truck driver at Epping.

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Published: 03 October 2022

Tarantino Investments Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court on Wednesday to a single charge of failing to ensure that plant being used for a purpose for which it was supplied was safe and without risks to health.

The company was fined $35,000 without conviction and ordered to pay $7,500 in costs.

In December 2019, a subcontracted truck driver was supplied with a side loading trailer to transport a full shipping container from the company's Brooklyn depot to a business in Epping.

After unloading the container, the driver noticed that one of the stabilising legs on the trailer's crane did not fully retract using the remote control and used manual levers to retract it.

The driver then moved the truck to load an empty shipping container before driving back onto the road without realising that the rear stabilising leg had not fully retracted and was sitting parallel with the ground.

A short time later the protruding stabiliser leg collided with the cabin of a garbage truck travelling in the opposite direction, killing the garbage truck's driver instantly.

An investigation found the wiring of the side loading trailer was in a poor state of repair, having suffered some previous structural damage, and the remote control having been repaired with duct tape and cable ties.

The court heard it was reasonably practicable for Tarantino Investments to have put in place a regular maintenance regime of the electrical and mechanical componentry of the trailer by a suitably qualified person; ensured that the control box and electrical componentry were in reasonable working condition; or replaced the control box and electrical componentry when regular maintenance issues arose.

WorkSafe Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said there was no excuse for failing to maintain vehicles being used for work.

"This company's failure put other road users in extreme danger," Dr Beer said.

"Tragically, we have already seen 12 workers killed in vehicle accidents this year and WorkSafe will not hesitate to take strong action against duty holders refusing to control the known risks."

Duty holders using plant fitted with stabilising arms or outriggers should ensure:

  • Warning and indicating systems are fitted to alert or remind the driver that the outriggers or stabilising arms are deployed.
  • Mechanical or hydraulic locks are fitted to prevent extension of the outriggers or stabilisers during transit.
  • Manual (non-powered) stabilisers or outriggers incorporate a secondary latching or locking mechanism to reduce the likelihood of the outrigger or stabilising arm extending during transit.
  • Drivers are trained in the use of plant including how to secure/stow the plant for transport.
  • Plant is used in line with the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Plant, including warning and indicating systems, is regularly inspected and maintained to ensure it is operating as intended.
  • Fatigue risks are controlled and drivers are fit for work.