Concreting contractor fined over man’s death

A Carrum Downs concreting contractor has been convicted and fined $ 350,000 after a client’s son died while using the company’s earthmoving equipment at his family home.

In June 2015, the company was engaged to do earthmoving and landscaping works with a skid steer at a residential area in Carrum Downs. After finishing work for the day on June 9, the site supervisor left the skid steer in the client’s garage, with the keys in the machine.

The client’s 37-year-old son drove the skid steer out of the garage two days after, telling his father that he would use it to level the nature strip. He was later found with head injuries in the operator’s seat. The safety bar was not in position, the machine was bogged in the nature strip with the wheels spinning and the bucket raised. He died at the scene.

The court heard that the skid steer wasn’t in a good condition and was not safe to use even by an experienced operator. It was told that the skid steer was not given a mechanical inspection when it was purchased in 2014 and had never been serviced.

WorkSafe Acting Executive Director Health and Safety, Paul Fowler said businesses should make sure that the public’s safety is not sacrificed by preventing anyone from operating its plant and equipment.

“Employers have a duty of care not just to their own workers, but the general public as well,” said Mr. Fowler.

He said that although the incident happened at the client’s home, the company still had the duty to ensure it was safe and without risk.

“In this case, by leaving the keys in the machine, and not securing the area in which it was located, there was nothing to stop anyone from attempting to operate the skid steer. Tragically, someone lost their life as a result,” he said.

WorkSafe Victoria reminded employers and self-employed people to ensure that any plant not in use is left in a state which does not create a risk. This includes ensuring that the plant is located or guarded to prevent unintentional activation; has been parked on a firm level surface; the handbrake is applied; the motor switched off; and, the key is removed.

More information is available on WorkSafe Victoria’s website.

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