In this December 2008 case in the Victorian County Court, an
employer company and its director have both been convicted and
fined $100,000.00 each after a worker suffered fatal injuries in an
accident in Epping, Victoria in August 2006.
This prosecution represents the first occasion on which a
company director has been fined under Victoria's Occupational
Health & Safety Act 2004. The fine awarded by the Court was
also the highest penalty every imposed on an individual under that
legislation in Victoria.
Manumatic Industries Pty Ltd manufactures motor vehicle exhausts
in Victoria. As part of its operations, the employer used a pipe
bending machine. A worker by the name of Frank Grima was working in
the immediate vicinity of that machine installing several drip
trays under it to catch leaking oil. Without warning to Mr Grimer,
the machine was inadvertently turned on by a fellow employee. Mr
Grima was then struck in the head by the machine's working
parts, causing him to suffer fatal injuries.
Investigations by the Victorian WorkCover Authority revealed
that a laser light curtain, which may have otherwise prevented the
machine from being turned on by the co-worker, was not correctly
positioned. The Court was also told that there was no system or
procedure in place to prevent the machine from being started if
people were working in its immediate vicinity.
The company's managing director, Stanley Guthrie was
directly involved in the day-to-day operations of the company. Both
he and the company each pleaded guilty to breaches of ss21(1) and
(2) of the Occupational Health & Safety Act 2004.
In handing down judgement, Her Honour Judge Liz Gaynor described
the employer and its managing director as "utterly
negligent" in failing to have appropriate safety systems in
The size of the penalty awarded to the employer's managing
director highlights the importance for directors of companies
employing workers to take active steps to ensure their
company's workplaces are safe and without risk of injury to
Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
Treasurer Scott Morrison recently announced changes to a number of 2016 Budget superannuation contribution measures.
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