Business convicted, fined over breach that led to a worker’s death

A Victorian metal treatment company has been fined $300,000 over the death of an employee who was crushed by a machine on a Victorian worksite.

Greg Allie, 50, died after sustaining 13 fractured ribs and a fractured sternum at Ace Metal Treatment Services Pty Ltd’s plant in the Ballarat suburb of Delacombe in October 2019.

During sentencing today, Judge Trevor Wraight said the fine could “in no way be a measure of the value of Mr Allie’s life”.

The County Court heard the company did not have a regular maintenance schedule for the metal electroplating machine that crushed Mr Allie.

A WorkSafe engineering report found the machine was “generally in an unsafe condition, with no cohesive or integrated safety protocols in place”.

The court heard one of two emergency stop buttons did not work, and there was “little operational information or instructions available to the operators”.

While Ace Metal Treatment Services said it could not explain why Mr Allie had accessed the machine in the way he had, its lawyer Stephen Russell said Mr Allie was not at fault.

It was not until after Mr Allie died that the company installed an interlock gate, which Judge Wraight said “essentially eliminated the risk that gave rise to this incident”.

Other safety modifications were also made to the worksite after Mr Allie died.

The company pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to provide and maintain a safe plant.

Mr Allie’s family previously told the court through victim impact statements about the devastation his death had caused.

“[Family] should feel safe knowing that in a country like Australia, the lucky country, they will see them at the end of the day,” the statement said.

Mr Allie had spent 20 years working for the business, which is headquartered in the Melbourne suburb of Clayton.

Judge Wraight said the company was to be sentenced on the basis of the risk of the workplace safety breach, but not the outcome or consequence.

The offence carried a maximum fine of more than $1.48 million.

Industrial manslaughter laws were first introduced to the Victorian parliament the day Mr Allie was killed and took effect on July 1, 2020.

Source: ABC News

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