Company fined after backpacker worker injured

A Moree based agribusiness has been convicted and fined $40,000 after two workers, including one European backpacker, were hurt at one of the company’s properties when part of a trench collapsed in 2017.

DCS Better Regulation Division Deputy Secretary and NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Natasha Mann said Vitonga Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Downing Centre Local Court Sydney for failing to ensure as far as reasonably practicable the health and safety of workers.

“In this case, the court heard that two workers were injured while installing an irrigation pipeline at a property belonging to Vitonga Pty Ltd situated near Moree,” Ms Mann said.

“The soil walls of the irrigation trench collapsed inwards, trapping and crushing one of the workers, a European backpacker, against the concrete pipe being laid.

“The other injured worker, an experienced farmhand, was trapped by his legs during the cave in but managed to extricate himself before moving to help the backpacker.”

Police and ambulance were called to the scene and an excavator was used to help free the backpacker, who sustained serious injuries to the torso. The injured farmhand also received medical treatment for a knee injury.

“The court heard that the trench was not reinforced as required by clause 306(3) of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 and that the NSW WorkCover Excavation Work Code of Practice had not been applied,” Ms Mann said.

Vitonga Pty Ltd has the right to appeal the conviction and sentence which were dealt with on 26 July, 2022.

Source: The National Tribune

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