A major Australian hirer of industrial equipment, Coates Hire Operations Pty Ltd, has been convicted and fined $500,000 after a worker died when an elevating work platform rolled down the tray of a truck, tipped and crushed him, according to Safety in Australia.
Fine Increased from Original $250,000
Victoria’s Court of Appeal recently imposed the fine which was increased from the $250,000 penalty imposed by the County Court in 2010 and subsequently appealed by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The prosecution followed the death of a 44-year-old Cranbourne South man who was crushed at a Coates’ Hire business at Dandenong in February 2007.
Company Had Two Prior Convictions
The Court of Appeal said Coates Hire had two relevant prior convictions and should have been doubly vigilant to ensure no further breaches occurred. It also found the company failed to enforce and disseminate its own safety procedures.
In its judgment, the court said the breach equated to a very high degree of culpability. The Court of Appeal affirmed the County Court’s finding that Coates had shown a ‘disregard for the safety of its workers’.
Disastrous Results of Not Applying Safety Procedures
WorkSafe’s Executive Director for Health and Safety, Ian Forsyth, said the case illustrated the disastrous results of having safety policies and procedures but not applying them.
“The increase in penalty is welcome, but it does not take away from the fact that a preventable death has occurred. All other employers need to act now to review their own situation, whether or not they use external contractors.
Redline Towing and Salvage Pty Ltd, which employed the man who died, was sub-contracted by Coates to pick up and deliver plant on behalf of Coates was convicted and fined $130,000 in 2010.
Dandenong Heavy Haulage Pty Ltd was convicted and fined $50,000 in 2010 in relation to the incident. Dandenong Heavy Haulage also transports plant on behalf of Coates.
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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