New South Wales company Finray fined AU$225,000 for 2008 death of worker crushed by defective log loader near Ballina; WorkCover NSW argued safety risks were foreseeable
January 6, 2012
– A Far North Coast company has been fined $225,000 and ordered to pay WorkCover’s legal costs after a labourer was fatally injured when struck by a loader in Rappville, north of Grafton and west of Ballina.
Finray Pty Ltd (Finray) provided extraction and transportation services for logs from dump sites to a local sawmill for processing.
On 5 August 2008, a 60-year-old worker had been using the loader to load logs onto a semitrailer for transportation to the nearby sawmill.
Sometime after loading a number of logs, the employee was working at ground level when the loader rolled forward, striking the worker.
The employee sustained severe crush injuries and died at the scene.
A WorkCover investigation found that the 30-year-old loader was in poor condition and was unsafe.
The Court was told that the loader was in poor condition and had not had an operating park brake or any other braking mechanism for some time before the incident.
Finray Pty Ltd was charged with breaches of the Occupational Health & Safety Act 2000.
In handing down the decision of the Industrial Court, Justice Marks determined the safety breaches were serious.
The Court found that the loader was inherently unsafe because of its size and the lack of a park brake. It was a serious breach to require a worker to use such equipment.
Finray was found guilty, and was convicted and fined $225,000.
WorkCover NSW’s General Manager of Workplace Health and Safety Division John Watson said the risks to the employee’s safety were entirely foreseeable and the incident was preventable and should never have happened.
“The fine goes some way to highlighting the seriousness of the offences,” Mr Watson said.
“What makes this case even more tragic is that there were simple things the company could have done to prevent this.
“If a park brake or other braking mechanism had been installed in the loader and had been activated, the employee would not have been fatally injured.
“This is a sad reminder of the need to make sure all workplace equipment is safe. This company did not do this and a man has died,” Mr Watson said.