TRAGEDY: John Erikson was killed in November 2012 while working at Proserpine Mill.
TRAGEDY: John Erikson was killed in November 2012 while working at Proserpine Mill. Contributed

Proserpine Mill death appeal decision handed down

THE District Court has dismissed an appeal over a negligence case against Wilmar Sugar after a worker was crushed to death.

John Erikson was killed at Proserpine Mill in November 2012 after he crossed a yellow line and stepped out in front of a cane bin.

The 46-year-old had been walking down a corridor next to the train track, along which empty cane bins travelled. The yellow line marked off a corridor from the track area.

Wilmar was accused of failing to comply with its health and safety duty, but after a three-day hearing at Proserpine Magistrates Court the charge was dismissed.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland appealed the decision, but the appeal was thrown out in Mackay District Court. Judge Paul Smith said he was satisfied the main cause of the incident was Mr Erikson crossing over the yellow line "without warning contrary to his training".

"If he had complied with his training he would not have been hit," Judge Smith said in a recent judgment.

"I am satisfied that the prosecution did not prove beyond reasonable doubt it was either reasonably practical (for Wilmar) to implement the control measures asserted in the complaint, or that the control measures asserted would in fact prevent workers from walking alongside moving cane bins as alleged."

A Wilmar Sugar spokeswoman said the company welcomed the judgment.

"Particularly its finding that Wilmar provided and maintained a safe system of work. Safety is, and always will be, a priority for Wilmar," she said.

"We recognise that Mr Erikson's death, last year's trial and this appeal have been difficult for family and friends, as well as for colleagues who witnessed the accident.

"We hope this Court decision allows closure for all concerned."

Wilmar spent about $5 million improving operations at the Proserpine Mill.


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