Record fine issued over worker’s woodchipper death

Sophie Cotsis says a $2 million fine over a worker's woodchipper death puts employers on notice.

Sophie Cotsis says a $2 million fine over a worker's woodchipper death puts employers on notice. Photo: AAP

A tree removal company has been fined more than $2 million over the death of a worker who was killed when using a defective woodchipping machine.

The penalty is the single largest court-imposed fine for a business in NSW.

Work Health and Safety Minister Sophie Cotsis said the record fine and landmark conviction “puts everyone across NSW on notice”.

A1 Arbor Tree Services Pty Ltd was convicted and fined $2.025m in the NSW District Court on Friday over the death of the Fijian man who was killed while using the woodchipper at a Lindfield school in Sydney’s north nearly four years ago.

The court heard that on September 7, 2019, workers were removing trees when the 40-year-old man was killed after he was accidentally drawn into the woodchipper.

The court heard A1 Arbor had not completed a risk assessment of the equipment, which had several defects.

The court also heard there was little supervision of workers and workers did not receive training to operate the equipment.

The company pleaded guilty to failing to comply with its safety obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act.

Judge Wendy Sue Strathdee noted during sentencing the foreseeable harm to the worker was extreme and determined the record fine was appropriate.

A1 Arbor has a right to appeal the decision and has been contacted by AAP for reaction.

Ms Cotsis said the “shocking” death was “completely avoidable”.

“My heart goes out to the family and friends of this 40-year-old worker who didn’t make it home.

“The lives of workers must be priority number one. No excuses, no exceptions.”


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