FREAK ACCIDENT: V/Line CEO James Pinder and Jim Frith, Managing Director of McConnell Dowell Martinus Rail Joint Venture answer questions at a press conference held at Mildura railway station on Wednesday morning, following the death of a contractor.

By JOHN DOOLEY

WORKSAFE Victoria (WSV) and police are investigating the death of a man who was crushed by a bitumen roller at a worksite near the corner of Seventeenth Street and Walnut Avenue in Mildura on Tuesday morning.

According to police, the tragic incident occurred when the roller, which was being loaded onto a trailer, moved without warning and pinned the man between the roller and the trailer.

The man, believed to be 58, and from Rochester, was working in the region on the Murray Basin Rail Project as a sub-contractor to project managers McConnell Dowell Martinus rail joint venture.

Police and ambulance paramedics performed CPR on the man, but he died at the scene.

In a statement released by WSV, the man’s death brings the number of Victorians killed at work this year to 21, compared to 24 for the same time last year, and is the second workplace fatality within a week in regional Victoria.

Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said there would be an investigation into the circumstances of the man’s death.

“My thoughts are with his family, friends and workmates during this difficult time,” she said.

V/Line CEO James Pinder was in Mildura on Wednesday morning and held a press conference at Mildura Railway station, where he was joined by Jim Frith, Managing Director of McConnell Dowell Martinus.

“I’ve come to Mildura today first and foremost to offer on behalf of V/Line our sincerest condolences to the family and friends and work colleagues of the gentleman involved in the tragic accident yesterday in Mildura,” Mr Pinder said.

“The second thing that I came here to do today, is to reassure myself that everything that is happening with respect to our project, is being undertaken with the highest possible safety standards.

“I have now received reassurance that every aspect of the operations carried out on this project makes safety the highest order priority, which has always been the case with V/Line, and always will be.

“We employ a very comprehensive safety-management plan for our normal operations and for any projects that we manage, and they are of the highest standard.”

Mr Pinder said he was unable to answer questions in regard to details surrounding the accident, as it was now the subject of an investigation by WSV and police.

Mr Frith also offered his company’s condolences, and said his primary focus as contractor to V/Line for this project is for the safe execution of work and the safety of everyone on the project.

Mr Frith also declined to answer questions about the circumstances of the incident due to the investigation that is underway.

V/Line confirmed that there have been zero safety breaches on this project to date and that the project has been randomly and independently audited for safety nine times in three months by authorities, including WorkSafe and the rail safety regulator, and that no breaches were found.

The $440 million Murray Basin Rail Project is undertaking vital upgrades to the region’s rail freight network needed to meet increasing demand for freight services, with work in our region currently being carried out near Merbein and Red Cliffs.