A beef and grain farming business near Moree has been fined $90,000 following the death of a worker in 2013.

The 69 year old bulldozer operator was fatally injured on 4 June 2013 when he was crushed between a skid steer loader and an equipment hoe while cleaning built-up soil at Pegela Rural Enterprises Pty Ltd’s grain and beef cattle farm on the Newell Highway, 35 kilometres north of Moree.

SafeWork NSW’s investigation found that the worker had been given verbal instructions on how to attach the hoe to the skid steer but did not receive a demonstration or a copy of the equipment’s manual.

While he had previously operated the skid steer loader, he had not operated it with the hoe attached and the investigation found he was crushed between the gears and metal bars of the hoe and the protective cage of the skid steer due to the hoe being attached incorrectly.

Pegela Rural Enterprises Pty Ltd were charged by SafeWork NSW with a breach of section 32/19(1) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 for failing to provide training in how to connect the hoe to the skid steer, failing develop and provide a safe operating procedure and failing to ensure an operating manual for the skid steer and hoe was available.

Pegela Rural Enterprises Pty Ltd was found guilty of the charge in the NSW District Court and fined $90,000.

Executive Director of SafeWork NSW, Peter Dunphy said the incident could easily have been prevented if the deceased worker was given training and a copy of the manual.

“Even with experienced employees, training is extremely important,” Mr Dunphy said.

“In this instance, providing verbal instructions was not enough, especially when the equipment manual, which was inexplicably located more than 80 km away, included clear warnings about the risks.

“Another employee should have also supervised the work and checked that the hoe was properly attached.

“This incident serves as a reminder to the agriculture industry of the importance of effective safe work systems in preventing workplace injuries and fatalities.”

Mr Dunphy added that SafeWork NSW was working closely with the agriculture industry to improve safety.

“In the two years to July 2014 there were 1,582 workplace injuries and 12 fatalities in the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries,” he said.

“We are working closely with the agriculture industry to address major health, safety and return to work issues so that rural workplaces can be safer and more productive, and have a range of programs and incentives to help improve safety.

“I encourage rural workplaces across the State to contact their local SafeWork NSW office to see how we can help them ensure the safety of their workers.”

Back to top