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Failure to fix problems results in severe injuries

A Gore farm machinery company’s lack of effective repairs to a tractor has resulted in a substantial fine and reparations to an injured farm worker.

“Vehicle service industries must ensure diligent workmanship, systems and practices in the work that they do to prevent injuries to users,” says WorkSafe Head of Specialist Interventions, Simon Humphries.

His comments follow the sentencing today in the Gore District Court of farm machinery business Agricentre South Limited after brakes on a tractor serviced and supplied by the business failed and ran over a worker.

The brakes on the second hand tractor were not working when it was first purchased by Agricentre South in 2015. Some diagnostic work and repairs had been completed when the tractor was delivered to a property for a trial in April 2016. The farm owner identified further issues with the tractor, including its brakes and Agricentre South attempted to fix the issue on-farm.

Five days into the trial, the brakes failed, and the tractor ran over a worker leaving her with fractured vertebra, fractures to her arm and injuries to both legs. The farm owner who was driving the tractor escaped the incident unharmed.

WorkSafe’s investigation found that Agricentre South had failed to ensure the tractor’s repair history was communicated between staff, failed to ensure the tractor had fully operational brakes, and that wires for the warning lights were reconnected and working after repairing the brakes.

“The vehicle service industry, including the servicing of farm machinery, needs exceptional diligence to ensure the safety of the end users of vehicles and plant. Working brakes are the difference between life and death – on the road and in the workplace” Mr Humphries concluded.

Notes:

- A fine of $239,063 was imposed

- Reparations of $103,459 had already been awarded to the victim in April 2018

- Agricentre South Limited was charged under sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and (2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

- Being a PCBU, failed to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health and safety of other persons, was not put at risk from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking.

- The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $1,500,000


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