A COMPANY charged over the death of a worker in Leitchville has been fined $300,000.
The 59-year-old man was crushed to death and another worker 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, was sentenced in the County Court on Thursday after pleading guilty to two charges of failing to ensure a safe workplace without risk to health.
Judge Phillip Coish said he accepted there was a reason for the lack of supervision on the day of the accident, but the breaches resulted in serious consequences.
The court heard 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, Andrew Buchanan - the company director - 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.
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Judge Coish said he accepted that the company had pleaded guilty at an early stage, which avoided the need for witnesses to go through a traumatic trial.
The judge also noted that the company was genuinely remorseful and had been cooperative with the police and Worksafe Victoria.
Judge Coish said Andrew Buchanan Engineering had a good safety record and there were "unusual and unique circumstances" that led to the lack of supervision.
But the judge said work should have been stopped, rather than eventuating to the very serious outcomes.
"I accept the reason for the lack of supervision but that does not excuse the company's actions," Judge Coish said.
"The actions of the company were very serious indeed because the workers were unsupervised and unsafe work was implemented."
Judge Coish sentenced the company to an aggregate fine of $300,000.
If the company did not plead guilty, it would have been fined $500,000.
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