Safework NSW: Two Fatalities Two Fines
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Courtenell Pty Ltd

as Trustee for the Vowles Family Trust

WHS Training Specialists, Sydney, Australia ~ PO Box 622 Broadway NSW 2007

ABN: 42164393628 ~ ACN: 050109281

Safework NSW: Two Fatalities Two Fines;

Total $637,500

The details of the 2 tragic fatalities and the risk control measures put in place after these events are set out below. These provide some insight into the "how" and the "whys" that brought about the fatalities.

The Fines

On the 4th of September 2015, in two separate court cases, the NSW District Court found each company (the PCBUs) guilty of breaches of the NSW WHS Act. In each case an employee was killed.

In one case the company was fined $412,500 plus SafeWork NSW 's legal costs. In the other case the other company was fined $225,000 plus SafeWork NSW 's legal costs (the prosecutions were started by WorkCover NSW but SafeWork NSW inherited all of WorkCover's WHS functions and authority on the 1st of September).

The Facts

Fatality Number One: $225,000 fine plus SafeWork's legal costs

A fitter and machinist was employed to perform maintenance work for a company that supplies, maintains, and services cranes. The crane he was working on fell over and pinned him between the crane and the arm of another crane. He died as a result of his injuries.

The safety measures implemented by the company after the incident included introducing:

job safety analysis forms and safe work method statements for the overhaul, storage, and movement of cranes at their premises,

the use of lockable pins and a lock out system to prevent cranes from moving during maintenance,

a system of work that required cranes be secured to a firm base to ensure they did not fall over while being maintained.

Fatality Number Two: $412,500 fine plus SafeWork's legal costs

In this workplace trucks delivered loose recyclable paper materials to the yard and the paper materials were unloaded and moved by front end loaders and forklifts.

A forklift driver was killed when a front end loader reversed into him.

The PCBU was already aware that pedestrians were at risk in the yard because 7 months before the fatality a front end loader reversed over a truck driver's foot. A risk assessment was completed and policies created but the policies were not followed.

The safety measures introduced by the PCBU after the fatal incident included:

engaging a full-time traffic controller to manage traffic,

creating a drop-off zone marker with red painted line to identify areas where trucks could unload,

installing concrete barriers and fencing  to create a designated area for mobile plant in the yard,

creating an authorized access area for the operation of mobile plant.


Looking back at these incidents with the results of the investigations in our hand it is easy to feel puzzled that what appears to be obvious risks were not controlled. But we can only speculate on why that was so. We do not have all the facts.

Hopefully you have found the insights into these fatalities useful in your pursuit of a safe and healthy workplace.


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How to Minimise the Risk of WorkCover Prosecutions

Reduce Injuries and Improve Safety Culture

How can you  keep workers safe

Why Managers and Supervisors Have a Vital Role in WHS Compliance

How to determine what is reasonably practicable

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