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Shire fined for man's death at tip

AAP logoAAP 28/07/2016

A regional West Australian shire has been fined $110,000 after the death of a man whose body was found at the bottom of an unfenced liquid waste pond at a rubbish tip.

The victim was the uncle of the manager at the Shire of Waroona's Buller Road refuse site and was permitted to visit from time-to-time to help with tasks.

He was at the site, which caters for general rubbish and also includes liquid waste ponds inside a wastewater treatment compound, with his nephew in August 2013 when he disappeared.

The manager saw his uncle's dog appearing agitated and smelling of septic waste so he went looking for him and found the pump to one of the ponds was not turned off.

A body was recovered two days later at the bottom of one of the ponds after they were pumped out.

The Shire of Waroona pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe workplace for a non-employee, and was fined in Mandurah Magistrates Court on Thursday and ordered to pay costs of $8336.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch said the tragedy could have been avoided if the waste ponds had been secured and automated pumps installed.

After the man's death, WorkSafe inspectors issued the shire with five improvement notices, including installing a fence around each pond.

"The shire also installed an automated pump system, which could be operated from outside the compound, significantly reducing the number of times a person was required to enter the compound," Mr McCulloch said.

"The total cost of all these measures was just over $14,000.

"It would have been practicable for the shire to have taken these measures a lot sooner, and it may have prevented the sad loss of this man."

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