Food manufacturer fined for fall and mobile plant risks
A food manufacturer in Bairnsdale was convicted and fined $32,500 last week after workers' lives were endangered working from height without fall protection.
Published:16 March 2023
Vegco Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Bairnsdale Magistrates' Court after earlier pleading guilty to one charge of failing to provide safe systems of work, and another charge of failing to provide information, instruction and training to employees to perform their work safely.
The company was also ordered to pay costs of $2,467.
The Court heard that in October 2020, two workers were investigating a chemical smell coming from a sloping roof at the factory.
The pair used a scissor lift to access the roof, which was about 6-8 metres high and wet from overnight rain.
During this process, a WorkSafe inspector visited the site as part of a routine inspection and observed the men working without harnesses or other fall protection in place.
The inspector also found that although the scissor lift was operating in a shared zone with pedestrians, vehicles and other mobile plant, it had no impact protection, and the two workers were not trained, instructed or aware of the company’s traffic management plan for mobile plant.
The Court heard that it was reasonably practicable for Vegco to have provided and maintained safe systems of work both for working at heights and the use of mobile plant at the workplace.
The company should also have provided information, instruction and training to workers in relation to the traffic management plan, working at heights and the use of elevated work platforms.
WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said although no one was harmed in this instance, the company's offending was still serious, with falls from height and incidents involving mobile plant among the leading causes of workplace deaths and injuries.
"Since 2018, 39 workers have fallen to their deaths. Each could have been prevented if safety measures, such as a passive fall prevention device, were in place," Dr Beer said.
"It's a reminder to all employers that WorkSafe won't hesitate to prosecute if they fail to do everything they can to eliminate or reduce risks to health and safety."