Business, director fined $360,000 after man crushed by excavator

Minister Matt Kean , story for Edmund Tadros AFR PIC Nick Moir 9 June 2017
Minister Matt Kean , story for Edmund Tadros AFR PIC Nick Moir 9 June 2017

A Sydney business has been fined a total of $360,000 for breaching workplace safety laws after a 45-year-old man was killed when his foot became caught under an excavator.

The Sydney District Court fined the business $300,000 and its director a further $60,000 for the man's death at the Harris Holdings waste management facility in Lidcombe in November 2015.

SafeWork NSW took Harris Holdings and its director Harry Zizikas, 47, to court for breaching the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) by allegedly exposing the worker to a risk of death or serious injury. The company and director pleaded guilty.

The court heard that an excavator used to sort waste moved backwards and caught the worker's foot, knocking him down. He was freed from under the machine, but later died.

The minister responsible for SafeWork NSW, Matt Kean, said the penalty was a warning to other businesses and bosses.

"This awful death is a stark reminder of the responsibilities employers have to make sure they provide a safe workplace," he said.

"At this business, the risk of workers coming into contact with the excavator while sorting waste was significant and the business should have had safe work systems to prevent it."

Mr Kean said the investigation found there was no traffic management plan or exclusion zone to separate workers from the excavator and no means for sorters to communicate with the excavator operator.

The court heard that workers had received no training on the need for an exclusion zone around the excavator and no supervisor had been appointed to enforce an exclusion zone.

"The cost of addressing this risk would have been negligible as a communication procedure could have been quickly and easily developed, and implemented," Mr Kean said.

"Instead, a vulnerable worker has lost his life in a completely preventable incident."

The court heard that Harris Holdings made improvements to safety after the incident. This included the purchase of a new and much smaller excavator, which was fitted with additional safety features including a reversing camera.

Safety information for workers was also introduced.

This story Business, director fined $360,000 after man crushed by excavator first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.