Zinifex Port Pirie has been prosecuted by SafeWork SA in the South Australian Industrial Relations Court following the death of 45-year-old employee Greg Sleep in October 2004.
Sleep was struck and fatally injured by a front-end loader as he worked night shift in the ‘Co-Treatment Shed’, where ore was being deposited.
Visibility in the massive shed was poor, due to dust and low lighting.
Sleep’s body was found in the early hours of the morning by a colleague, after he had been missing for more than four hours.
The company elected to contest the charge, however, the Industrial Magistrate Richard Hardy found the company (now known as Nyrstar) had breached Section 19(1) of the Occupational Health Safety and Welfare Act 1986, in that it failed to maintain a safe working environment, through a number of failings in its systems of work.
In announcing his decision, Magistrate Hardy found that Sleep’s death was caused by injuries sustained from contact with the loader, that the Co-Treatment Shed was a dangerous working environment, there were insufficient measures to separate workers from machinery, there was a failure to prevent the employee entering while the loader was operating in the shed and there was a failure to fully instruct, train or supervise the employee.
According to Magistrate Hardy, although the company did have safety protocols in place they were insufficient.
“The defendant had instituted a protocol which if strictly adhered to was unlikely to result in a collision between man and machine, but in my view more was required in view of the potentially disastrous circumstances of contact between them.”
Submissions on penalty are likely to be held in Port Pirie in September.