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Vic worker death leads to $800k fine

AAP logoAAP 22/07/2016 By Caitlin Guilfoyle

A Melbourne box recycling company has been fined $800,000 after a dangerous homemade piece of machinery broke and crushed a man to death.

But it's unclear whether Australian Box Recycling will ever pay up, after apparently taking steps to avoid a penalty over the tragedy, the Victorian County Court has heard.

The Campbellfield company was sentenced on Friday for failing to provide or maintain safe machinery, after employee Steve Bower was killed when a winch cable on a suspended cage broke.

Judge Peter Wischusen said Australian Box Recycling had shown no remorse and apparently been placed into liquidation in a bid to avoid penalty after Mr Bower's death.

He also said the business had seemingly been sold to a related entity and "risen from the ashes" to continue trading.

Mr Bower was employed as a box sorter when he died in August 2014.

The cage and winch were installed by company manager Leandro Guisasola - who didn't have any formal qualifications for such construction - and were used to stack pallets of flattened cardboard boxes.

Judge Wischusen said the manager was oblivious to the hazard created and the company should have known the risk was grave.

The machine had been erected for about 18 months before the incident but no WorkSafe inspector had attended in that time, the court heard.

Mr Bower's 24-year-old daughter, Katie Ridding, felt she lost a huge part of herself after his death and missed her father's smiles and daily phone calls.

She has since welcomed her first child.

"It makes me sad he will never get the chance to walk me down the aisle," Ms Ridding told the court.

Mr Bower's partner, Joan Martini, said he was her soul mate and she found it hard to sleep without him.

"Losing Steve is losing 22 years of my life," Ms Martini said in a statement.

"I only ever imagined we would grow old together."

Australian Box Recycling did not defend itself against the charge at trial and was not represented in court.

Attempts to contact the company on Friday were not successful.

The business has no prior convictions.

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