$2.025 million fine issued over Woodchipper’s death

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Sunday, 6 August, 2023 – 12:30
Incidents & prosecutions
New South Wales

A company in NSW has been convicted and fined 2.025 million dollars over the death of a worker who was killed while using a woodchipper in 2019.

The multimillion-dollar penalty is the single largest court-imposed fine for a business in the state.

On 7 September 2019, the company, A1 Arbor Tree Services, was in Lindfield Sydney to remove trees from the grounds of a local school, where a 40-year-old victim, a Fijian national, was fatally injured.

The NSW District Court heard A1 Arbor did not complete 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.

A1 Arbor Tree Services pleaded guilty to failing to comply with its safety obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

Her Honour Judge Strathdee noted during sentencing on the 14th of July that the foreseeable harm to the 40-year-old man was extreme and determined the record $2.025 million fine was appropriate.

A1 Arbor has a right to appeal the decision.

“This is yet another shocking fatality that was completely avoidable. The lives of workers must be priority number one. No excuses, no exceptions,” said NSW Minister for Work Health and Safety Sophie Cotsis.

“This is a landmark conviction that puts everyone across NSW on notice.”