A major trucking group’s MD has issued a statement of contrition for the death of a worker in May 2014. The company accepted culpability in the fatality which resulted in Melbourne Country Court issuing a record $1 million fine to the company.
The record fine was a result of one charge under section 21 of the 2004 OHS Act for failing to maintain a safe system of work, following an investigation by WorkSafe Victoria.
Toll Group MD Brian Kruger stated,
“Toll deeply regrets the incident that led to the death of our co-worker and colleague Anthony Attard,” Kruger says.
“Toll pleaded guilty to the charge brought by Worksafe Victoria.
“We acknowledge the pain and loss this has caused to his family, friends and co-workers.
“Personally, and on behalf of the company, we again extend our sincerest condolences to Anthony’s family.
“Since this tragic incident further safety improvements have been made in our shipping operations to ensure we reduce the risk of anything like this ever happening again.”
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) used the incident as an example in it’s accident report in 2014. The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) highlighted the example as an approach that could be used to examine serious truck-related incidents.
The fatality occurred when the man was run over by a MAFi trailer while helping load a ship. The man was crushed to death. He had been placing rubber mats for the MAFIs to rest on while in transit.
The worker was wearing a high-visibility vest and earplugs at the time but still the driver did not see him.
A WorkSafe investigation revealed that the company had a number of procedures in place to ensure worker safety during these activities however these were inadequate according to WorkSafe.
Following the investigation WorkSafe explained,
“Critically, a key component of the safety procedures – that a fellow stevedore be positioned on the deck to assist with moving mats, directing the prime movers and watching for pedestrians – did not occur,” it says.
“There was no stevedore in position at the time of the incident.”
WorkSafe said the fine was a reflection of the terrible failure by the company to keep workers safe on the job. This fine should serve as a warning to all employers about the importance of putting workers safety first. The work safety authority had this to say about the court’s findings,
“Toll had a system in place to manage the serious risks associated with loading and unloading its ships but some of its procedures were inadequate and the most critical part of all – having a second pair of eyes on the deck – was not enforced,” Williams says.
“Toll knew the risks its employees faced working in and around MAFIs but failed to manage them appropriately.”
“It was a catastrophic failure that led to a worker dying in the most horrible of circumstances, and traumatising all the people who tried so hard to save him.
“The court’s decision reflects this, and is a stark reminder to all employers that the safety of their employees must be paramount at all times.”