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Engineering business fined $225,000 over worker's death

19 January, 2017

A mechanical and engineering business has been fined $225,000 over the death of a worker at its Cobar workshop in 2014.

A 30 year old diesel mechanic suffered fatal crush injuries when a load frame from a 20 tonne underground haul truck slipped from its supports and fell on him at PJL Pty Ltd's Cobar workshop on 16 May 2014.

SafeWork NSW's investigation found that the load frame was supported on steel cylindrical stands and wooden blocks when it fell.

The cylindrical stands were propped-up on the wooden blocks which were unable to handle the load. The wooden blocks then split, causing the load frame to fall on the worker, resulting in fatal crush injuries to the man.

SafeWork NSW charged PJL Pty Ltd with a breach of section 19(1)/32 of the Work Health and Safety Act (NSW) for failing to manage the risk of serious injury or death from the load frame moving or falling.

PJL Pty Ltd was found guilty in the District Court and fined $225,000.

Executive Director of SafeWork NSW, Peter Dunphy said the business failed to follow its own policy of stopping a job if it could not be completed according to instructions and that a safe system of work should have been developed specifically for the job.

"When the job was varied and expanded there were no equipment manuals, additional instructions or revision of existing ones for the additional work," Dunphy said.

"The risk of working underneath a 20 tonne load was clearly foreseeable and a safe system of work, including a safe work method statement and work plan approved by the workshop foreman or supervisor should have been developed."

"Comprehensive instructions should have been developed and appropriate equipment, including properly engineered load bearing supports should have been used."

Over the past three years there have been more than 140,000 injuries in NSW workplaces as a result of using machinery and equipment incorrectly. More than 5,800 workers were permanently disabled and 121 died.

"A worker is now deceased from an incident that should never have occurred," Dunphy added.

For information on how to work safely with machinery and equipment that lifts people or objects, contact SafeWork NSW on 13 10 50 or visit www.safework.nsw.gov.au

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Alfred Arnold | Thursday, January 19, 2017, 3:02 AM
I hope some of this money is being given to to families of these people and not just into the Government coffers
Pete | Thursday, January 19, 2017, 10:37 AM
Here we have Another case of a company having to pay fines to the govenment $225,000 for a workers mistake.there is no possibility of watching every worker every second of the day So they close the company down ,put everyone off , what is achived? Right ,! nothing.!
Duncan | Thursday, January 19, 2017, 10:30 PM
I am living in Singapore where they have about 66 deaths a year--mainly of underpaid overseas workers but NSW is not far behind in terms of deaths and may even be ahead in terms of disabling injuries. This is a tragic case and no the fine won't bring him back but hopefully it will make other companies--and this one of course--think twice and take more care in the workplace. Accidents are avoidable