The brother of a man who was killed at his workplace in Delacombe in 2019 has shared the pain his family has suffered.
He said the loss of his brother was not fair and the incident should not have happened in a statement read during a court hearing for the company responsible for safety breaches.
Ace Metal Treatment Services pleaded guilty to failing to maintain a safe working environment in the County Court on Monday.
The company admitted it could have installed a simple solution to prevent 50-year-old Alfredton man Greg Allie from accessing a machine while it was operating and getting crushed inside it.
Defence barrister Stephen Russell said the company conceded the installation of an interlock gate, which stopped the machine when opened, could have eliminated the safety risk.
I miss him, we all miss him and we will always think of him.Dean Allie, victim Greg Allie's brother
A colleague found Allie, an employee of 20-years with Ace Metal Treatment Services, crushed in the machine on October 29, 2019 when responding to the machine alarm.
Allie was pronounced dead at the scene.
Dean Allie said in his victim impact statement he was angry and sad his brother did not have the chance to come home safely from work.
He said his brother was loyal, big hearted, generous, hard-working and fiercely competitive.
The court heard Allie was in the army for seven years, before ceasing his service due to injury.
He first started working with Ace Metal Treatment Services in Melbourne before being asked to move to Ballarat to work at the Delacombe factory as a supervisor.
Dean Allie said he was devastated when he heard the news of his brother's death at work.
"I was angry because it shouldn't have happened and I was sad because it was such a waste, after all he had sacrificed for his country and how hard he tried to get back to work," he said.
"I miss him, we all miss him and we will always think of him."
The machine Mr Allie was crushed in was used for electroplating metal and transported items for treatment.
Prosecutor Simone Tatas said there was unrestricted access for any employee to access the walkway while the machine was running, which was a risk to safety.
Mr Russell said it was not known why Allie was on the walkway while the machine was running before he was crushed, as there was no known reason for him to be there.
He said all three employees at the Delacombe factory had been provided training not to access the walkway while the machine was running.
"We don't blame him clearly in any way whatsoever. We failed to have a system in place to stop him going up there," Mr Russell said.
"Had the interlock gate been there and he opened it, the line would stop and the risk would have been detracted."
Ms Tatas said there was no regular maintenance schedule for the machine and an expert commissioned by Worksafe found the machine was in a generally unsafe condition.
The expert said the walkway adjacent to the machine was strewn with debris, switches were missing or corroded, meaning the machine would not stop if something jammed, and an emergency stop button was not operational.
Had the interlock gate been there and he opened it, the line would stop and the risk would have been detracted.Stephen Russell, defence barrister
The court heard the company made additions and changes to the safety of the site in the months following the death, including installing an access gate to the walkway.
Mr Russell said Ace Metal Treatment Services had cooperated in the process and pleaded guilty at an early stage.
He said it was a less serious example of the offence because there was no allegation the company deliberately avoided safety measures to cut costs.
"There is no suggestion the company did make a deliberate decision not to deal with a risk that was known," Mr Russell said.
Ms Tatas submitted the offending should be assessed at the higher end of seriousness and was a substantial departure from the company's duty to provide a safe workplace.
"In terms of the costs of repairing, it was negligible and it should have been easily picked up on any inspection of the workplace," she said.
"The very fact the employees were trained not to access the walkway demonstrates a knowledge of risk by the employee and no other safety measures were put in place to reduce that risk."
The maximum penalty for the charge of failing to provide and maintain a safe working environment is more than $1.96 million in fines.
Mr Russell said the company had been under substantial financial pressure in recent times.
Judge Trevor Wraight will hand down his sentence next week.
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