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Waste contractor fined $60,000, escapes conviction

Barry Bros Specialised Services was charged with unsafe work systems after a high-pressure cleaning hose and restraining device failed on June 3, 2006, leading to serious leg injuries for an employee of another company.According to WorkSafe Victoria, at the time of the incident, Barry Bros had contracted Total Gas Care to use a closed circuit television to check the drain under Melbourne’s Burnley Tunnel. After the CCT check, Barry Bros’ employees used the high-pressure cleaning hose to flush the drainage pipes.“A fitting connecting a high-pressure water line to a control valve failed, as did a device to restrain the high-pressure water line during the water-jetting process,” WorkSafe said.“The water line whipped around in an uncontrolled way, hitting the CCTV operator’s lower left leg causing serious injuries.”Barry Bros was fined $60,000 after general manager Steven Pewtress told the court a conviction would have an impact on the company’s capacity to tender for public-sector work, which accounts for half the company’s $50 million annual turnover.Magistrate Felicity Broughton said she imposed only the fine because the company had taken “outstanding” steps to improve health and safety after the incident.She said the firm had also demonstrated remorse and shown good character since its incorporation in 1958.However, WorkSafe Victoria has argued a conviction was warranted because Barry Bros was responsible for ensuring safe work practices.The safety watchdog said the injury would not have occurred if the company had complied with the Australian Standard, which requires an exclusion zone while high-pressure cleaning equipment is operational.WorkSafe Victoria’s executive director John Merritt said safety remained a priority even in tough economic conditions.“It is an investment in the future and a fundamental part of doing business.“If you don’t [prioritise safety], as was said in this case, your business is at risk,” Merritt said.“Financial penalties imposed by the courts are only a small part of the financial impact that injuries and deaths create.”

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