Engineering firm fined $250,000 after worker crushed

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An engineering firm has been fined $250,000 after a worker was killed while dismantling a former Victorian cheese factory.

Glen Parsons died when he was crushed by a 770kg condenser at the old Murray Goulburn Cheese factory at Leitchville, in northern Victoria, in December 2017.

The equipment was being loaded into a shipping container for transport after the factory was bought by a New Zealand company in 2017.

By late November there were only a handful of people left from A1 Engineering working at the site, and Mr Parsons was the most senior employee.

Site supervisor Andrew Buchanan had to return to New Zealand for family reasons as the project wrapped up but hoped to be back by December 5.

He was unable to return as planned.

Mr Parsons was unwell and arrived late on December 6.

He spoke with Mr Buchanan over the phone, and they discussed loading equipment into containers.

Attempts were made to move the heavy condenser into a closed-top shipping container but its size and shape made the task difficult.

A plan was devised, using a hydraulic jack and a plank of wood, but it was flawed from the start, County Court Judge Damian Murphy said.

"While Mr Parsons was a qualified boilermaker and a highly experienced and well regarded employee, he was left with no supervision whatsoever," the judge said.

The task was fraught with risks and required dogging and rigging skills, which neither Mr Parsons nor the other man had.

Mr Parsons had asked his colleague for a hammer so he could remove the skates from under the condenser, to move it off the jack into the container.

But it fell onto Mr Parsons and the other man, who suffered non-fatal crush injuries.

A jury found A1 Engineering guilty of one charge, in that it should have ensured there was a supervisor directly supervising the men.

It was acquitted of three other occupational health and safety charges.

Mr Parsons' wife Jan said she didn't blame anyone for his death and hoped the finalisation of court processes would allow her to live her life wholly again.

"It really is your worst nightmare when the man you adore and love does not come home from work," she said.

Andrew Buchanan Engineering, the company owned by Mr Buchanan, was fined $300,000 after pleading guilty to its role in Mr Parsons' death.