Inquest told of safety failures

A "SHODDY machine" and an absence of directional detail may have contributed to the death of a man during a workplace incident at a Hobart zinc works, a coronial inquest has heard.

Christopher William Wagg, 52, was on a cherry picker in the purification basement at Nyrstar when he was crushed between the equipment and an overhead structure in August 2009. Mr Wagg died from his injuries a week later.

Counsel assisting coroner Olivia McTaggart, Ken Read, SC, told the Hobart Magistrates Court on the first day of the inquest yesterday that there had been a number of safety failures including: inadequate pre-checks on the equipment, no speed difference when the platform on the cherry picker was raised and warning signs that were not visible on the equipment.

Mr Read said safety log book entries were incomplete and the latest three-month service was not recorded. The emergency stop button on the equipment was also not functioning properly, it was heard.

Mr Read said outdated job safety analysis forms were used, which did not include a warning for operators to "cease work in unfavourable conditions".

Scaffolding and safety equipment hire company Tasmanian Access Systems faced charges in relation to the unsafe plant equipment after the incident.

Mr Read said Nyrstar had "instigated a radically different system" for checking equipment since the incident, and all equipment was now thoroughly checked as it entered the area rather than relying on spot- checks.

Witnesses from Nyrstar and the hire company are expected to appear before the inquest, which is scheduled to run all week.

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