Innisfail boss haunted by work death torment
AN Innisfail businessman whose company was fined $85,000 after an employee was crushed to death in a mill accident has been so distraught over the tragedy he has scaled back staff and intends to close that part of his operation.
Tests revealed father-of-two Adam Forster, 40, had traces of cannabis in his system when he was killed at Pacific Mineral Developments nts, which develops soil product Minplus,nte on October 25, 2011.
His employer, Sam Catalano, 74, was visibly distressed yesterday as the details of Mr Forster's death emerged in court.
Pacific Mineral Developments, which develops soil product Minplus, pleaded guilty yesterday to breaching Workplace Health and Safety obligations causing death.
Owner Mr Catalano wept and needed to be comforted by family during yesterday's sentencing.
Mr Forster was well-known at Innisfail, with more than 500 people turning out to his funeral to pay tribute to a man who dressed as Santa Claus to visit the elderly and children at Christmas, and also played popular character Ad Man on local radio station 4KZ.
No one witnessed him fall into the mill and it is not known why the marketing manager, who was not trained in the equipment's operation, was there at the time.
But Workplace Health and Safety Queensland barrister Peter Major said Mr Forster was last seen shovelling material back into the mill, which was housed in an open shed without any protective barrier.
He said the company had since built a barrier around the mill, and if it was there in the first place Mr Forster may still be alive.
Mr Catalano's solicitor, Doug McKinstry, said the respected businessman had felt great loss over Mr Forster's death and had also scaled back the business so only two people worked there on a day-to-day basis.
"He's really not prepared to expose people now to the risks,'' Mr McKinstry said.
Mr Catalano would soon stop the milling operation altogether, Mr McKinstry said.
While Magistrate Trevor Black noted Mr Forster's judgment may have been impaired by cannabis, he said the Workplace Health and Safety breach was clear.
"It would have been obvious to all concerned that any close physical contact with the fast-revolving piece of equipment would have not onlyenbeen hazardous, but disastrous as it ultimately proved,'' Mr Black said.
"The prevention prior to the accident may have saved a lot of people a lot of heartache.''
Mr Forster's family declined to speak to The Cairns Post outside court.
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Workplace death: Adam Forster was killed in a mill accident at Innisfail.