Company fined $300,000 after garbage truck death

A waste disposal company has been convicted and fined a total of $300,000 after a worker was fatally crushed by a garbage truck in 2019.

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Published: 05 December 2022

Country Cart Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Latrobe Valley County Court today after earlier pleading guilty to two charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The company was convicted and fined $250,000 for failing to provide or maintain safe plant and $50,000 for failing to provide or maintain safe systems of work.

The court heard that in April 2019, the garbage truck driver was collecting bins when he arrived at a property in Leongatha South and got out of the cabin to open a front gate.

Despite engaging the parking brake, the garbage truck rolled forward and crushed him against the gate.

Following the incident, a VicRoads inspection found the garbage truck to be unroadworthy due to several major defects, including a faulty parking brake, and being overdue for all required services.

The court found Country Cart failed to maintain the parking brake in a condition that would hold the truck stationary in all circumstances.

It was also reasonably practicable for the company to have provided and maintained a system of work to ensure the truck was kept in a roadworthy condition without defects.

WorkSafe Acting Executive Director of Health and Safety Kelly Harris said the tragic death highlighted the terrible human cost of failing to follow the most basic of workplace safety procedures.

"A thorough maintenance program and rigorous inspection of heavy vehicles is absolutely critical to protecting the health and safety of not only your workers but other road users and members of the public," Ms Harris said.

"We are still seeing too many preventable work-related fatalities on our roads and WorkSafe will continue to take strong action against employers not doing everything they can to control the known risks."

To manage work-related vehicle risks employers should:

  • Ensure appropriate safe systems of work are in place and that these are regularly monitored, reviewed and, if necessary, revised.
  • Ensure regular vehicle inspections, servicing and maintenance are undertaken by suitably competent persons in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations.
  • Ensure pre-operations checks are conducted daily on essential components such as brakes, steering, tyres (including pressure), indicators, suspension and to detect issues such as oil leaks; and that any defects are rectified by competent persons.
  • Communicate all safety information to drivers and others to enable them to perform their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health.