A Liverpool company has been fined $100,000 and ordered to pay WorkCover NSW’s legal costs after a 58-year-old Minto man was crushed to death when a loading ramp collapsed after a hydraulic lifter malfunctioned at a demolition site in Fairfield in January 2008.
P&D Transport NSW operated a trucking business transporting oversize plant and equipment to and from construction sites, and on 29 January 2008, P&D Transport was called to a demolition site in Fairfield where a company had requested transportation of an excavator.
The excavator was driven by the deceased onto P&D Transport’s low-loader trailer attached to the prime mover via the loading ramp, which was raised and lowered by a hydraulic lifter attached to the rear of the truck.
After loading the excavator on to the deck of the trailer, the deceased dismounted and was found by a coworker under one side of the ramp.
The incident was caused by the failure of a pivot pin that supported the hydraulic cylinder causing the loading ramp to collapse crushing the 58 year old worker underneath.
The sole director of the transport company, Paul Houghton, was separately charged and fined $5,000 by the Court and ordered to pay a proportion of WorkCover’s legal costs.
The company and its director pleaded guilty to a breach of section 8(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 after WorkCover began prosecution proceedings.
In handing down its finding the Industrial Court of NSW found that P&D Transport did not have in place any system for periodic inspection of the trailer.
In particular, the company did not have in place any system that required a daily inspection of the pivot pins used to secure both the top and bottom of each hydraulic ram used to raise and lower the loading ramps attached to the trailer.
The court also draw attention to the need for employers and contractors in the trucking, demolition, building and construction industries to ensure employees are not exposed to risks through operating and transporting heavy machinery.