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A1 Arbor Tree Services, a tree management company, has been fined a substantial $2.25 million following a fatal incident involving a faulty woodchipper in Lindfield, Sydney, leading to the death of a worker.
Details of the Incident
On September 7, 2019, Samuela Cirivakayawa, a 40-year-old employee, was tragically killed while hand-feeding branches into a woodchipper known to be faulty. The Fijian national was drawn into the machine, resulting in his death.
The woodchipper, designed for mechanical feeding, had clear warnings against hand feeding due to severe injury or death risks. A1 Arbor Tree Services was found to have not conducted a risk assessment of the equipment and failed to provide adequate training or information regarding its safe operation.
Court’s Decision and Impact on Victims
The NSW District Court handed down the largest fine for a business in the state due to the company’s negligence. Judge Wendy Strathdee emphasized the high level of culpability, noting the easily preventable nature of the accident with minimal cost and effort. Despite the company’s guilty plea and subsequent safety improvements, the judge expressed concerns about the sufficiency and maintenance of these safety measures.