A mine maintenance contractor has been convicted and fined nearly $500,000 for a “significant failure” to protect its employees, following the death of a worker who was crushed by a steel beam.
Silcar Pty Ltd was convicted and fined $475,000 in the Melbourne County Court recently on one count under section 21 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004.
This combined two offences of failing to provide and maintain safe plant and systems of work and failing to provide information, instruction and training to employees.
During sentencing, Judge Murphy said the incident marked a significant failure in the company’s obligations to employees working on routine maintenance tasks.
The incident occurred in 2006 at the Yallourn Mine as maintenance fitter Richard Gauci, 42, was carrying out maintenance work on the head pulley of the mine’s conveyor, used to transport overburden.
Mr Gauci was winching a 700kg steel beam into position when the cables on two winches failed, causing the beam to fall onto him.
WorkSafe’s investigation found:
- The hand winches and lifting rope on the fixed belt clamp were in poor condition
- Silcar had no records to show that the belt clamps and ropes had been inspected or maintained and
- Silcar had failed to put safe systems of work in place for working with fixed belt clamps.
WorkSafe’s Acting Hazard Management Director, Rod Gunn, said the incident occurred because Silcar had failed to consider all the risks.
“As a maintenance contractor, carrying out high-risk work assessments should be an area of expertise,” he said.
“This prosecution is a reminder that employers need to be vigilant about making sure plant and equipment is inspected, maintained, and in a condition suitable for use - and that nothing slips through the cracks,” he said.
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