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Prosecution Details

Defendant Co-operative Bulk Handling Limited
Section 19(1)
Regulation Not applicable
Offence Date Friday, 26 November 1999
Description of Breach(es)

Being an employer, failed to provide and maintain, so far as was practicable, a working environment in which its employees were not exposed to hazards.

Background Details

The defendant operated grain receival and storage depots throughout Western Australia, including a depot at Beaumont, which is approximately 100km east of Esperance.

The defendant stored grain in various ways, including open bulkhead storages. When stored in open bulkhead storages grain was not protected from the elements. Rain can damage grain and for that reason the defendant needed to take steps to shelter the grain from wet weather.

A worker was one of eight people trying to pull a large tarpaulin over a grain stack in windy conditions, in an effort to protect the grain from approaching weather. A receival point operator was on the tarpaulin, 29 metres above the ground, when a rope between a towing vehicle and the tarpaulin broke. The tarpaulin billowed in the wind before it and the worker was blown off the stack to the ground.

Because of the large tarpaulin's weight (approximately 40 metres long and 700kg in weight) seven employees and a farmer had attempted to cover the grain. In addition to the efforts of six of the eight workers pulling the tarpaulin, two ropes were tied between the tarpaulin and a front-end loader and a multi-load stacker. Both vehicles were driven slowly to drag the tarpaulin across the grain stack.

A sudden gust of wind caught the tarpaulin and a rope attached to the front-end loader broke, at the very moment that the worker was seen on the tarpaulin. It was not clear if the worker had jumped onto the tarpaulin, had fallen, or was blown onto it.

Following the death, a prohibition notice was issued to the company in relation to tarping, and the company took significant steps toward improving its tarping practices.

The defendant pleaded guilty and was fined $7500 in the Esperance Court of Petty Sessions on 9 August 2001 (charge number ES 80/01).

The complainant lodged an appeal to the Supreme Court of Western Australia. The appeal was successful and Justice Hasluck amended the fine to $12,000 on 14 December 2001.

Lead Image
Outcome Summary convicted
Conviction Date 09 Aug 2001
Court Esperance Court of Petty Sessions & Supreme Court
Fine $12,000
Costs $5,500
Charge Number SJA 1135 of 2001