By Ian Neubauer

Foster’s Group received Victoria’s biggest ever fine under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 for serious safety failings that led to the death of a worker at its Melbourne plant in 2006.

The judgment refers to a 58-year-old worker and father of two who died after being crushed between a handrail and the pneumatically operated door of a machine that takes bottles from pallets before they are filled.   

Presiding judge Jane Campton said on imposing a record-breaking $1.125 million fine that a reasonable employer would have foreseen the danger posed by the unguarded machine that led to the worker’s death and taken steps to make it safer.

Campton said the steep penalty was justified because there had been a similar but non-fatal incident on a near-identical machine at the plant three years previously.

WorkSafe Victoria’s Executive Director, John Merritt, said Foster’s failings were not uncommon.

“The problem had been identified, someone had been hurt previously, the solution was known and it wasn’t fixed until after a man had died. The opportunities to make improvements were repeatedly deferred,” he said. “This company is successful and should be setting an example by ensuring the highest safety standards are maintained.”

Foster’s, which pleaded guilty to two charges over the accidental death, has since installed safety improvements at the plant costing $3.9 million.

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The Shout Team

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