Benchtop manufacturer fined $120,000 over worker death

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A Bayswater manufacturer and installer of stone benchtops has been fined $120,000 over the 2011 death of a worker, despite the fact that the company is in liquidation.

Australian Countertop Pty Ltd - trading as Australian Counter Top - pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe workplace and, by that failure, causing the death of the worker, and was fined in the Perth Magistrates Court today.

In December 2011, the worker – a stonemason – died when he was crushed by several 235kg stone slabs that were being unloaded from a truck and stacked in A-frame racks.

There were four A-frame racks in the workshop, and the man was between two of them, removing a clamp from the top of one of the stone slabs.  Four slabs from the rack behind him fell and he was crushed between the slabs that fell and other slabs being held by a forklift.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch said today the case was a sad reminder of the need to have safe systems of work in place, especially when it came to stacking and racks.

“The court heard that falling slabs was a commonly-known hazard in the industry, but that safer work procedures were also common in the industry,” Mr McCulloch said.

“In many other similar workplaces, post-and-rail racking was used where workers could load and unload slabs without going in between the slabs.  This type of racking was present in this workplace, but the posts were not large enough to accommodate the slabs being delivered on the day of this incident.

“The court found that it would have been practicable for the company to have stored stone slabs in post-and-rail racking and to have trained and instructed employees to load and unload the slabs without going in between the slabs.

“This was the fourth worker killed in similar circumstances in this industry within a four-year period.

“So although the company is in liquidation and could not pay the $120,000 fine imposed, we considered it important to prosecute the company and have a conviction recorded as a deterrent to others in the industry.

“Other employers in the same or similar industries need to appreciate that if safety measures are not taken, they will be liable to prosecution and substantial penalties.”

Further information on safe systems of work can be obtained by telephoning WorkSafe on 1300 307877, or on the website at www.worksafe.wa.gov.au.

Media contact: Caroline De Vaney 6251 2363 or 0408 927563 (media enquiries only)

caroline.devaney@commerce.wa.gov.au

Follow @WorkSafeWA on Twitter

WorkSafe
Media release
29 Apr 2015

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