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Horrific death triggers $650,000 fine for Melbourne workplace

A skid steer loader clears snow in Red Square after a heavy snowstorm.
A skid steer loader. (Photo by Vyacheslav Prokofyev\TASS via Getty Images)

A man's tragic death has led to a Melbourne court finding his employer guilty of not providing a safe work environment.

The Melbourne County Court ordered last week that Bradken Resources Limited pay $650,000 in penalties after finding it guilty of a breach of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The 10-day trial came after WorkSafe Victoria's investigation into a July 2014 death of a Bradken employee.

The foundry worker was using a Bobcat-type machine to scoop up heavy objects, the court heard, when a 276kg metal casting dropped and crashed through the windscreen, killing him.

"Every family should expect that when their loved ones go off to work, their employer is doing their utmost to keep them safe," said WorkSafe executive director Julie Nielsen.

"WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute those employers who fail to do all that is reasonably possible to protect the health and safety of their workers."

Even though there were no past incidents of objects falling off the scoop and onto the windscreen, the court heard the company knew – or should have known – that this was a risk.

"The weight, heat and proximity of the castings created a risk that employees operating the loader could suffer burns leading to serious injury or death," WorkSafe told the court.

The business could have reduced the risk to staff by using other machinery – like a rock excavator – that would have put employees further away from the hot castings.

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