A rural Victorian egg farm was fined $230,000 for failing to properly maintain a front-end loader, which resulted in a contractor being crushed to death.
When investigating the incident, WorkSafe Victoria discovered the vehicle had several maintenance issues. This included a faulty starter ignition.
The loader could only be jump-started by another vehicle, or started manually by connecting a lead to the battery.
To do this required the operator to lean over the engine from either inside the cabin or at the side of the vehicle.
As the broken ignition was permanently in an ‘on’ position, it started as soon as the battery was connected.
Also, the vehicle’s door couldn’t be opened, which meant the driver had to climb through the loader’s window space, which did not have any glass, to get into the cabin.
In May 2016, a contractor attended the property to undertake construction work that involved using this vehicle.
The incident that caused the man’s death wasn’t witnessed, but he was found on the ground about 10 metres from the vehicle which stopped after it collided with a forklift.
It was later confirmed that he had sustained injuries that were consistent with being run over by the heavy vehicle.
Paul Fowler of WorkSafe said that machinery “in such poor condition that it requires a work-around to operate is not safe to use” and that “employers must ensure regular maintenance is carried out with reference to the manufacturer’s guidelines”.
Grampians Free Range Poultry Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act for neglecting to ensure that their workplace was safe and without risks to health.