Engineering services company Buddco Pty Ltd has been fined $600,000 for breach of its work health and safety duty following an avoidable incident where contractor Craig Tanner suffered fatal injuries after entering an ink holding tank to clean it at a factory in Auburn in 2017.
Buddco was found guilty in the District Court of New South Wales of a charge under section 19(1)/32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
Mr Tanner suffered fatal injuries when an anchor blade was activated while he was in the tank, causing his leg to become trapped. Fellow worker Yatin Mehta entered the tank to assist and subsequently suffered serious injuries.
Buddco had been engaged by DIC Australia Pty Ltd to supply labour for, among other things, maintaining and servicing the ink manufacturing plant, which was owned by DIC Australia at the Auburn site. Buddco had in turn engaged Mr Tanner to clean out the ink tank.
The Court found that as the agitator was not electrically isolated, the risk of death or serious injury to a worker crushed by an anchor blade inside a holding tank was obvious and foreseeable.
In accordance with the requirements under the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999, the Court noted it was not satisfied Buddco had accepted responsibility for its actions and its role in the death of Mr Tanner and the injuries suffered by Mr Mehta.
The Court further found that while Buddco had a detailed written safety system in place for confined space work and tank cleaning, there was no standard or safe step-by-step procedure to ensure electrical isolation of the tank.
The Court noted that Buddco had no previous convictions, was otherwise of good character and was unlikely to re-offend.
Buddco has the right to appeal against the conviction and sentence.
In April 2021, DIC Australia Pty Ltd, was convicted and fined $450,000 for breach of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 in relation to this incident.
Head of SafeWork NSW Natasha Mann said:
“SafeWork NSW extends its deepest sympathies to the families of those affected by this tragic and preventable incident.
“SafeWork NSW is committed to ensuring workplaces across the state are operating at the highest possible standard to ensure workers are safe while working to prevent an incident like this ever happening again.
“Devastating outcomes like this should serve as a reminder for other companies to provide their workers with the safest possible working environment to ensure they make it home safe at the end of each shift.”
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