A MAN who was killed during a Leitchville workplace accident was not being supervised when he tried to move the heavy piece of machinery that ultimately killed him, a court has heard.
The 59-year-old worker was crushed to death and another man was seriously injured at the decommissioned cheese factory on December 6, 2017.
The New Zealand company who was supervising the northern Victorian site, Andrew Buchanan Engineering Limited, appeared in the County Court on Wednesday.
Company director Andrew Buchanan formally entered guilty pleas to two charges of failing to ensure a safe workplace without risk to health.
In May 2017, Andrew Buchanan Engineering was enlisted to supervise workers who were dismantling and packing equipment at the decommissioned Leitchville cheese factory.
On December 6, Mr Buchanan and another supervisor were not on site due to unrelated circumstances.
Three workers chose to pack a large piece of equipment called a condenser. The piece of machinery weighed 770 kilograms.
The court heard one of the men used a crane to carry the condenser to a close-top shipping container.
The 59-year-old man was using a jack to lift the machinery up from a set of skates when the condenser fell, crushing the man and one of his colleagues.
Paramedics arrived on scene but the 59-year-old could not be revived. The other man's leg and foot were seriously injured in the accident.
Worksafe investigators determined the heavy condenser could not have been safely packed into a close-top shipping container.
The investigator said the lack of supervision also added to the risk.
Victim impact statements from the 59-year-old man's partner and sister were read to the County Court on Wednesday.
The man's partner said his death was the most devastating experience she had been through.
The 59-year-old's sister said the death "shattered" her world.
"He never should have died that day," she said in her statement. "My brother went to work and he never came home."
Defence counsel Robert Taylor told the court Mr Buchanan was sincerely remorseful for the man's death.
Mr Taylor said Mr Buchanan spoke at the man's funeral and provided money to the 59-year-old's widow.
The defence counsel said prior to the 2017 accident, the engineering company had never been involved in any workplace safety breaches.
Mr Taylor said the company had been adequately supervising the site but failed to do so on the day of the accident.
The defence lawyer said while Andrew Buchanan Engineering admitted to the safety breaches, the offending was at the lower end of the scale.
"It's not a case where there has been a conscious throwing of caution to the wind," Mr Taylor said.
But prosecutor Daniel Sala said the legislation worked to prevent workplace accidents.
Mr Sala said Andrew Buchanan Engineering should have stopped work at the site as soon as they knew there would be no supervisors available.
Judge Phillip Coish said it was clear there was a "tragic combination of factors" that led to the worker's death.
Andrew Buchanan Engineering Limited will be sentenced in the County Court next week.
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