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Prosecution Details

Defendant Nat Constructions Pty Ltd
Section 19(1) and 19(6)
Offence Date Thursday, 7 March 2002
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; contrary to sections 19(1) and 19(6) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Background Details

The defendant operated a concrete supply business.

On 7 March 2002 an employee was working at the premises of the defendant. It was the employee's first day of work for the defendant as an employee but he had done work for the defendant on and off for the past 18 years.

On 7 March 2002, a concrete mixing truck operated by the defendant experienced an electrical fault, which caused the motor of the agitator bowl to fail. As a result the remaining concrete ceased mixing. By the time the truck returned to the depot the concrete had solidified and needed to be removed by a process known as de-dagging. This process involves the manual removal of the concrete once it has been broken up using either an air hammer or a hammer and chisel. The process requires someone to enter the agitator bowl of the concrete mixing truck.

At the depot the agitator bowl was assessed by four people including the employee and the Managing Director of the defendant, and two other employees. The agitator was assessed by removing an inspection port and removing the excess concrete from around the inspection port. To position the manhole at an accessible level the agitator motor was started and then engine speed was adjusted so that the agitator held its position.

After the assessment had been done it was clear that someone would have to enter the agitator to commence the de-dagging task. However, no instructions were given for anybody to enter the agitator. Three of the four people that had been around the agitator bowl left to obtain equipment, including some means of chocking the agitator bowl to prevent it from moving. The employee attempted to access the agitator by climbing through the manhole. At this time the agitator recommenced its motion and the employee was fatally crushed between the agitator and the rail of the chassis.

The defendant failed to provide a safe working environment at the inspection stage. The agitator bowl contained more than a ton of solidified concrete and was unsecured at the time when employees, including the fatally injured employee, were opening the inspection port and inspecting inside the agitator bowl through the inspection port. It was practicable for the defendant to have secured the agitator bowl using chocks before any employees commenced any work around the agitator bowl including inspection. Further, as a minimum measure the drive motor for the agitator bowl should have been turned off and isolated. Neither of these measures were taken.

The defendant pleaded guilty.

Outcome Summary


Conviction Date 08 Mar 2004
Court Carnarvon Court of Petty Sessions
Fine $12,000
Costs $387.70