The death of a worker trapped in a storage tank at an ink factory in western Sydney was avoidable.
Engineering services firm Buddco Pty Ltd has been fined $600,000 for breaching its workplace health and safety obligations after a “preventable incident” that killed contractor Craig Tanner, SafeWork NSW said on Tuesday with an explanation.
Tanner was fatally injured after entering an ink tank to clean it at an Auburn factory in 2017 when an anchor blade activated and his leg was pinched.
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His colleague Hatin Mehta was seriously injured while trying to save his colleague.
Buddco was found guilty of one charge under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 in NSW District Court.
“The court concluded that since the agitator was not electrically insulated, the risk of death or serious injury to a worker being crushed by an anchor blade in a holding tank was obvious and foreseeable,” said Safework Australia.
Buddco had been contracted by DIC Australia to provide labor for the maintenance and upkeep of the ink factory owned by DIC Australia at the Auburn site.
Buddco hired Tanner to clean the tank.
The court was “unconvinced that Buddco had accepted responsibility for his actions and his role in the death of Tanner and the injuries sustained by Mehta.”
While Buddco had a detailed written safety regime for confined space work and tank cleaning, there was no standard or safe, step-by-step procedure for ensuring the tank’s electrical insulation, the court found.
Buddco had no criminal record, was otherwise of good character and was unlikely to be offended again, the court said.
Buddco has the right to appeal the conviction and the verdict.
SafeWork NSW Director Natasha Mann extended her condolences to “the families of those affected by this tragic and avoidable incident”.
“Devastating results like these should serve as a reminder to other companies to provide their employees with the safest work environment so they can get home safely at the end of each shift,” she said.