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  • Rikki Lambert

Wodonga mechanic fined for 2014 petrol tanker triple-fatality

A Wodonga-based mechanic has been convicted and fined $210,000 following a fatal truck crash that claimed three lives in 2014.

In August 2014, a petrol tanker serviced by Heavy Mechanics Pty Ltd de-coupled on the Wodonga-Yackandandah Road at Staghorn Flat.

The detached trailer crossed the road and struck two cars travelling in the opposite direction, killing all three occupants including a four-year-old child.

A WorkSafe investigation found the tow-eye coupling that connected the prime mover and trailer, which at the time of the incident had been used for more than three years and 350,000 kilometres, was worn to excess and had failed under load.

A jury found the company should have conducted more accurate testing and inspections, which would have revealed the wear and tear to the coupling.

Heavy Mechanics Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Wodonga Country Court on Wednesday after being found guilty in June 2021 of a single charge of failing to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, that people other than employees were not exposed to risks to their health and safety.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said the company's failure to do so had led to a tragic loss of life, saying:

"This is an absolutely horrific incident that not only claimed three lives but left countless others continuing to deal with grief and trauma.
"What this case highlights is the terrible human cost of failing to follow the most basic of workplace safety procedures, including a thorough maintenance program and rigorous inspections of heavy vehicles."


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