Australian woman jailed for crushing employee to death

Image: Getty
Image: Getty

A Victorian scrapyard owner has been jailed after an employee died from having an industrial bin dropped on him.

Latrobe Valley Magistrates’ Court heard the male staff member was inside an industrial bin removing scrap metal on February 2017 when his 72-year-old boss Maria Jackson operated a forklift to lift the container.

The bottom of the bin then came off, with the employee falling through to the ground. The bin and the steel contents then fell on him, causing his death.

The victim, in his 50s, was named by the ABC as Foster man Robbie Blake.

Jackson was sentenced to six months in prison after she pleaded guilty to “failing to ensure other people in the workplace were not exposed to risks to their health” and “for recklessly engaging in conduct that placed others at the workplace in danger of serious injury”.

The bin was found to be in “very poor condition”, according to a WorkSafe enquiry, and Jackson never held a licence to operate a forklift. The scrapyard owner was also recovering from a stroke at the time of the accident.

Jackson had shown disregard for the health and safety of her employees, said WorkSafe health and safety executive director Julie Nielsen.

“The consequences for operating plant and equipment such as forklifts without a license or the proper training were catastrophic,” she said.

“WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute companies that fail to maintain a safe workplace and seek the maximum penalties available to the courts.”

Jackson, who has appealed against the sentence and is out on bail, was also fined $10,000 and ordered to hand over $7,336 in costs.

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