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Safety Alerts | vic

Maximum penalties imposed after fatal truck crash

8th October 2020

Valley Sweep Pty Ltd and Anton Zakic had both pleaded guilty in the Latrobe Valley Magistrates' Court to a single charge each under the Occupational Health and Safety Act of failing to provide and maintain safe plant.

On Friday, the company was fined $388,650 while Mr Zakic was fined $77,730, the maximum penalties available.

The court was told Valley Sweep had entered into a hire agreement to provide another company with a water cart truck and a driver in April 2017.

Less than a month later, the 21-year-old driver was killed when the truck rolled while travelling down a long, steep, curved section of road near the town of Noojee.

A forensic engineer engaged by WorkSafe concluded the poor condition of the truck's brakes, including being improperly adjusted, was the primary cause of the crash.

It was revealed the truck had last undergone a major inspection and servicing by an external mechanic in December 2015.

Mr Zakic and another Valley Sweep employee had performed some maintenance and repair work for the company's fleet of trucks and had worked on the water tanker, but neither were qualified mechanics.

The court also heard the driver had not received any formal training in the operation of water cart trucks, which have unique handling characteristics, or any supervised training in driving a water cart truck in difficult conditions such as a steep or curved descent.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said there was no excuse for the employer's behaviour.

"This company's director made a reckless decision to perform service and maintenance work on the water truck himself, even though he knew he wasn't qualified to do so," Ms Nielsen said.

"This failure to take reasonable care left a dangerous vehicle on the road and ultimately cost a young worker his life."

To manage 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, oil leaks and suspension and have defects rectified by competent persons.
  • Not allow untrained, unlicensed or inexperienced people to operate vehicles.
  • Implement a system to ensure people are competent to conduct the work - this should include instructions, information about the work, mentoring and assessment, toolbox training and refresher training even for experienced employees.
  • Establish appropriate rules and standards for safe road use (including speed limits for travel and manoeuvres) taking into account the load factor of a vehicle, movement of liquid and its effect on the stability of a vehicle, increased breaking distances due to the surge of liquid within a tank and changing environments and conditions.
  • Communicate all safety information to drivers and others (eg load information for those responsible for loading and driving vehicles) to enable them to perform their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health.

Workplace incidents claim two lives

14th August 2020

A 34-year-old man was crushed while working on a tipper truck at his Lilydale home on Sunday.

It is believed the man was working on the chassis of the truck with the cargo bin raised when it fell on top of him.

On Friday, a 60-year-old farmer died after his tractor rolled on a property at Myrniong, near Bacchus Marsh.

It is believed the man was slashing on uneven ground when the incident occurred.

WorkSafe is investigating both incidents.

The fatalities bring the number of workplace deaths this year to 42, which is two more than at the same time last year.

Construction company fined $850,000 after fatal fall

13th August 2020

Seascape Constructions Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Melbourne County Court at the beginning of August following the 2017 death of a carpenter at a two-storey house under construction in Kalkallo.

The company pleaded guilty to a single charge of failing to ensure that persons other than employees were not exposed to risks to their health and safety by failing to prepare and conduct work in accordance with a safe work method statement (SWMS).

Seascape engaged the carpenter and a handyman via the website Gumtree to work at the site, including to lay flooring.

The court heard the carpenter was lowering a compressed air nail gun by its air hose when he fell from an unprotected edge, landing on a concrete slab about 3.1 metres below.

The 68-year-old died of head injuries at the scene.

Company fined for concrete panel storage

16th April 2019

A Melbourne-based precast concrete manufacturer has pleaded guilty to failing to maintain a safe system of work and failing to prepare a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) for high-risk construction work. 

WorkSafe's investigation found that concrete panels weighing nearly three tonnes each were standing vertically, without support and had been manufactured with only two lifting lugs, rather than the four required in the manufacturer's specifications. The panels were also being lifted by make-shift methods, rather than using lifting lugs that were called for in the design. WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said it was only sheer luck that the panels had not fallen on workers.

Read WorkSafe VIC's safety alert for tips to ensure workers' safety when storing concrete panels. 

Safety Inspectors to blitz construction sites on both sides of the VIC/NSW border

21st March 2019

Keeping young workers safe and reducing potentially deadly falls at work sites is the focus of the latest Cross Border Construction Program blitz in the Albury Wodonga region.

WorkSafe Victoria and SafeWork NSW inspectors will visit construction sites on both sides of the border from March 25 to 29 to help keep them injury free.

WorkSafe to target falling object dangers

21st February 2019

The risks of falling objects at building sites will be the focus of WorkSafe inspectors when they visit Victorian construction sites in the coming weeks. In January there were a number of serious incidents involving falling objects, including an incident in which a tower crane dropped a concrete slab weighing about 11.5 tonnes.

Common causes for falling objects include gaps between safety screens or holes in safety netting, missing kick or toe boards on scaffolding, and debris or materials coming loose from plant while being lifted. Unsecured items stored close to edges or exposed to high winds can also cause incidents involving falling objects.

Visit the link below to view the full safety alert. 

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