Toll puts hand up as record fatality fine is imposed


Kruger extends personal and group condolences to the bereaved

Toll puts hand up as record fatality fine is imposed
Part of an ATSB image of where the fatality took place.

 

Toll Group MD Brian Kruger has made a statement of contrition as his company accepts culpability in the death of a worker on one of its ships in May 2014.

The stevedore’s death resulted in a record $1 million fine in the Melbourne County Court on one charge under section 21 of the 2004 OHS Act for failing to maintain a safe system of work, following a WorkSafe Victoria investigation.

"Toll deeply regrets the incident that led to the death of our co-worker and colleague Anthony Attard," Kruger says.

"Toll pleaded guilty to the charge brought by Worksafe Victoria.

"We acknowledge the pain and loss this has caused to his family, friends and co-workers.

"Personally, and on behalf of the company, we again extend our sincerest condolences to Anthony’s family.

"Since this tragic incident further safety improvements have been made in our shipping operations to ensure we reduce the risk of anything like this ever happening again."

The fatality was the subject of an Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) accident report that year, which the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) held up as an example of the sort of approach that could usefully be employed in examining serious truck-related incidents.

The stevedore was crushed to death when run over by a MAFi trailer while helping load the Tasmanian Achiever.

He had been placing rubber mats for the MAFIs to rest on during transit.

He was wearing a hi-vis vest and using earplugs but was unsighted by the driver.

According to WorkSafe, the court heard that Toll had a number of procedures in place to ensure the safety of employees during the moving of MAFIs on to the ships.

WorkSafe’s investigation found that these were inadequate.

"Critically, a key component of the safety procedures – that a fellow stevedore be positioned on the deck to assist with moving mats, directing the prime movers and watching for pedestrians – did not occur," it says.

"There was no stevedore in position at the time of the incident."

Worksafe says the $1 million fine is the largest ever handed down by a court in Victoria for a single offence under occupational health and safety laws.

WorkSafe executive director of health and safety Marnie Williams says the fine reflects the "horrifying failure of the company to look after the safety of its employees".

"Toll had a system in place to manage the serious risks associated with loading and unloading its ships but some of its procedures were inadequate and the most critical part of all – having a second pair of eyes on the deck – was not enforced," Williams says.

"Toll knew the risks its employees faced working in and around MAFIs but failed to manage them appropriately."

"It was a catastrophic failure that led to a worker dying in the most horrible of circumstances, and traumatising all the people who tried so hard to save him.

"The court’s decision reflects this, and is a stark reminder to all employers that the safety of their employees must be paramount at all times."

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