NSW Government issues largest fine over woodchipper death

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A1 Arbor Tree Services Pty Ltd has been convicted and fined $2.025 million dollars in the NSW District Court over the death of a worker who was killed while using a woodchipper in 2019.

The multi-million-dollar penalty is the single largest court imposed fine for a business in the State.

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

The 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 Pty Ltd 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 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.

Minister for Work Health and Safety, Sophie Cotsis, said in a statement, “My heart goes out to the family and friends of this 40-year-old worker who didn’t make it home.”

“This is yet another shocking fatality that was completely unavoidable. The lives of workers must be priority number one. No excuses, no exceptions.

“This is a landmark conviction that puts everyone across NSW on notice,” MP Cotsis concluded.

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