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                        2 min read

                        Fines of more than $1,000,000 handed down over excavator death

                        Fines of more than $1,000,000 handed down over excavator death

                        An equipment hire company and its director have taken an early guilty plea over the death of a man who was loading an excavator.

                        The director of Territory Plant Hire, Jason Madalena fronted Darwin Local Court last month, charged over the 2019 incident. Following the early guilty plea, Mr Madalena was fined $180,000, while his company was also fined a further $960,000.


                        The incident

                        In April 2019, the victim travelled to Territory Plant Hire in Wishart to pick up an excavator he had hired; it had a large bucket fitted which was holding a ripper and two smaller excavator buckets. While the excavator was being loaded onto a prime mover with a trailer, a smaller bucket fell and struck the man, causing fatal injuries.


                        The investigation

                        NT WorkSafe’s investigation discovered the ripper and the two smaller buckets being held in the large bucket were unrestrained. As a result, the company was charged for failing its primary duty of care, and Mr Madalena was charged with failing to exercise due diligence. Charges were also brought against the excavator operator involved in the incident, however, the operator’s passing in 2021 resulted in the charges being withdrawn.


                        How can this be avoided?

                        It’s always tragic when machinery incidents that are avoidable result in severe injury or death. There are a few measures that can be taken to prevent such an incident from occurring:

                        • Implement machinery safety systems to reduce the likelihood of avoidable incidents from occurring. Take Plant Assessor’s Machinery Safety System Health Check to see if your safety systems are up to scratch.

                        • Ensure anyone who operates machinery, such as an excavator, is qualified to do so.

                        • Ensure the safe operating procedures (SOPs) and safe work method statements (SWMS) for machines such as excavators are available for operators to easily access, and contain specific guidelines around loading and unloading.

                        • Ensure loads being lifted by machines such as an excavator are restrained where possible.

                        • Implement exclusion zones around the operating area of any machinery.


                        Get Plant Assessor

                        Plant Assessor can help you implement watertight machinery safety systems to reduce the likelihood of avoidable machinery incidents happening on your site. Our leading software platform allows you to conduct digital risk assessments and pre starts, schedule servicing and maintenance, and store all machinery-related documents, such as SOPs and SWMS, in a digital library. You’ll know your machinery safety system is up to scratch when you utilise these features to identify faults and hazards, assess the level of risk, implement recommended control measures and monitor for any further issues that may arise, and put your people at risk. Plant Assessor also has risk assessments that are specific to the hire industry, such as pre-hire and off-hire assessments, that can help protect you and your company from prosecution, should an incident involving your machines occur.

                        If you’d like further information about how Plant Assessor can help you improve your machinery compliance and help you prevent avoidable incidents, call our team on 1300 728 852 or email



                        Disclaimer: This information is intended to provide general information on the subject matter. This is not intended as legal or expert advice for your specific situation. You should seek professional advice before acting or relying on the content of this information.

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