An electrician working on top of a grain silo had to be resuscitated after being engulfed in grain.
The electrical company he worked for, Austin Bros, and farming partnership Mark and Sonia Dillon were fined $35,000 and $69,000 respectively in a sentence this month following the incident.
Two electricians were working on top of the grain to wire up motors on the Dillons' property when a truck arrived to empty the silo. The driver turned on the grain outfeed auger, causing one of the electricians to become engulfed.
The electrician had to be dug out and resuscitated, with four rescuers requiring hospital treatment for breathing difficulties.
"The dangers of working on grain are well known," said WorkSafe chief inspector Keith Stewart.
"Moving grain acts like quicksand and can bury a person in seconds. Even if grain appears to be solid, it is not a safe surface for workers," Stewart said.
A WorkSafe investigation found poor risk management, emergency planning and training for confined spaces work put the electrician's life in danger while threatening the safety of 14 others who went to his aid.
"The electricians should have been wearing harnesses; the truck driver should have been told they were in the silo. It was good luck rather than good management that meant no one died in this incident," Stewart said.
The victim who was engulfed was awarded $7000 and the electrician who got out of the silo to raise the alarm was awarded $3000.