Saturday, April 20, 2024

Record fine issued over woodchipper death

A Sydney tree removal company has been fined more than $2 million over the 2019 death of a Fijian worker who was killed while using a defective woodchipping machine.

The penalty is the largest ever single court-imposed fine for a business in NSW

“My heart goes out to the family and friends of this 40-year-old worker who didn’t make it home,” said NSW Work Health and Safety Minister, Sophie Cotsis.

“This is yet another shocking fatality that was completely unavoidable. The lives of workers must be priority number one. No excuses, no exceptions.

“This is a landmark conviction that puts everyone across NSW on notice.”

A1 Arbor Tree Services Pty Ltd was convicted and fined $2.025 million dollars in the NSW District Court over the death of the worker.

The court heard that on 7 September 2019, A1 Arbor Tree Services was in Lindfield to remove trees from the grounds of a local school, where the 40-year-old victim, a Fijian national, was fatally injured.

The court heard A1 Arbor did not complete a risk assessment of the equipment, which had several defects. The court also heard there was little supervision of workers and workers did not receive training to operate the equipment.

A1 Arbor Tree Services Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to comply with its safety obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

Her Honour Judge Strathdee noted during sentencing on 14 July the foreseeable harm to the 40-year-old man was extreme and determined the record $2.025 million fine was appropriate.

A1 Arbor has a right to appeal the decision.

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