A feedlot has been convicted and fined following the death of a worker who was electrocuted when the piece of machinery he was operating came into contact with power lines.
Harmony Operations Australia was sentenced in the Horsham Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to one charge of failing to provide and maintain a working environment that was safe and without risk to health and one charge of failing to provide necessary information and instruction to enable employees to work safely.
The accident occurred at the Gerang Gerung-based feedlot in Victoria’s west when a 29-year-old worker touched live wires with his telehandler as he was stacking hay bales in 2020.
Witnesses to the fatal accident said they saw a flash from the telehandler’s back tire followed by the worker jumping from the machine and suffering fatal electric shock.
The company was fined $140,000 and WorkSafe executive director of health and safety Narelle Beer said it was an avoidable tragedy.
“This case is a heartbreaking reminder of what can happen when the risks of operating machinery near power lines are not safely managed,” she said.
“It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, duty holders working near overhead power lines need to ensure they have safe systems of work in place and that workers receive the information and instruction they need to do the job safely.”
The court found the company should have had a 3m exclusion zone around the power line and it should have provided training and information on the exclusion zone to their employees.
A WorkSafe investigation found that while feedstock employees were required to complete a verification of competence for the telehandler as well as read the safe-work procedures, the dangers of overhead power lines wasn’t addressed.
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