Ergon Energy has been fined $300,000 over the death of a worker on a central Queensland pineapple farm in July 2021.
- Cody Smith, 25, was working on a pineapple farm in central Queensland in July 2021 when he was electrocuted
- The court heard a harvester he was working near passed under a power line which had dropped from its usual height
- Ergon Energy has been fined $300,000 over the death, with no conviction recorded
The company last month pleaded guilty to one count of failing to comply with a Category 2 electrical safety duty, exposing an individual to a risk of death, or serious injury, or illness.
Cody Smith, 25, was electrocuted when a harvester he was working near passed under a power line on Lake Mary Pines farm in Bungundarra, near Yeppoon, on the Capricorn Coast.
During sentencing in the Rockhampton Magistrates Court on Friday afternoon, Magistrate Philippa Beckinsale said five other people were also injured in the incident, receiving electric shocks.
The court heard the workers were in a field on July 14, 2021, picking pineapples using a tractor and a harvester.
Ms Beckinsale said the harvester, standing at 4.3 metres, then passed under a powerline, which was sitting at a height of 4.52 metres.
“The top of the machine either came in contact with, or close proximity to a power line,” she said.
Mr Smith was electrocuted.
The court heard workers Nathan Stevens, Joshua Fritz, Simone Ronchi, Ian Page, and Raymond Sheriff received electric shocks and were taken to hospital for treatment.
Ms Beckinsale said the power line had dropped from its usual height of 7.8 metres, due to a broken stay wire on the power pole, having corroded over time.
She told the court the power pole attached to the power line was observed to be “on a slight lean” and when straightened the day after the incident, the power line rose back to its usual height.
She said the exact date on when the stay wire broke was not known, however two days prior to incident workers had observed that the harvester was in close proximity to the power line.
‘Life will never be the same’
Referencing several victim impact statements from others injured in the incident, Ms Beckinsale said many had been diagnosed with post electric shock myalgia, post traumatic stress disorder, and other disorders.
“[Ian Page] refers to dragging Cody away before performing CPR on him and describes how [he] is now distressed by the smell of cooking meat,” she said.
“[Simone Ronchi] also states his life will never be the same, he experiences nightmares and wants to cry every time he has to talk about the incident because he can still see Cody’s face.
“[Raymond Sheriff] describes himself to not be the person he once was, that a sense of peace alludes him.”
The court heard Ergon was not aware the asset was unsafe and had “taken steps” since the incident to ensure it did not happen again.
Ms Beckinsale said Ergon had acknowledged the tragedy of the incident and the severe and ongoing impacts on Mr Smith’s family.
She fined the company $300,000 and ordered no conviction be recorded.
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