Supermarket recycling business liquidated to escape $800,000 worker death fine

The operators of a prominent recycling company have sought to escape massive penalties for the death of an employee after shutting down the business and resurrecting it under another name.

AB Recycling – listed as a cardboard recycler for Coles, IGA, Foodworks, Bunnings and Westfield – was found guilty of grave safety violations that led to the 2014 death of worker Steve Bower.

A slew of deadly defects in the construction and configuration of a four-metre-high box-stacking lift caused it to come crashing down under a 240-kilogram load, tragically crushing Mr Bower to death, at a warehouse in Melbourne’s north.

The company was found guilty by a County Court jury this week, and has been fined $800,000 in criminal penalties.

But the operators of AB Recycling put the company into voluntary administration after WorkSafe’s investigation, and there now appears no chance it will pay up.

Documents filed with Australia’s corporate regulator reveal that AB Recycling manager Leandro Guisasola set up a new company, High Heat, on May 28 last year, and listed AB Recycling as its sole shareholder.

The next day, shareholding was transferred to Mr Guisasola.

Both businesses have been recyclers of cardboard boxes to turn into briquettes. And the new entity involves all of the same key players – including Mr Guisasola’s parents, Daniel Guisasola and Marisa Giucamelli.

When contacted by Fairfax Media, Leandro Guisasola said the reasons for closing AB Recycling were WorkSafe’s looming criminal charges and heavy fines he knew were coming.

“Legal costs were not covered by the insurer,” he said. “And the fine that was coming was definitely not covered by the insurer.”

According to High Heat’s website, the company has retained a number of AB Recycling’s major clients, including IGA, Foodworks, Westfield and Coles.

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