Rubber company fined $450k over worker’s death

The County Court of Victoria. Photo: AAP Image/Con Chronis

by AAP and Cam Lucadou-Wells

A Dandenong South rubber company has been fined $450,000 after a worker was struck in the head and killed while trying to clear a jammed machine.

Jawad Mohammadi was working on a production line at The Elastomers factory in 2021, when some rubber material became jammed.

He entered what was known as the machinery’s ‘danger zone’ to clear the material on May 26, and his co-worker restarted the machine before he could leave the area.

As a result, Mr Mohammadi was struck in the head and killed after suffering a major skull fracture.

WorkSafe investigated the incident and charged The Elastomers with failing to provide and maintain a safe working environment for its employees.

The company pleaded guilty to the charge in Melbourne’s County Court with Judge Peter Rozen handing down his sentence on Friday 19 April.

He noted Mr Mohammadi’s co-worker would not have been able to see him in the danger zone from where he had to restart the machine.

The worker’s son described Mr Mohammadi in a statement to the court as a remarkable person who had a strong bond with everyone.

His death had left a hole in his family’s hearts that couldn’t be filled, he said.

Judge Rozen said it was not a failure of the co-worker but rather the company’s practices, as the business should have been proactively assessing whether the machinery was safe.

He found it was clear the risks to worker safety were present for a considerable period and the company’s failure to address those risks showed its moral culpability was high.

However, the judge praised The Elastomers for work completed since Mr Mohammadi’s death, saying it did not “sit on its hands” and has since addressed the safety risks.

He also noted the company’s guilty plea, lack of prior convictions and good corporate character.

Judge Rozen sentenced the company to a $450,000 fine with conviction, adding the penalty would never accurately reflect Mr Mohammadi’s worth and the loss his family has experienced.