A FATHER who died in a bobcat accident at Bradken’s Wodonga foundry on Tuesday night was yesterday described as a “top bloke who loved his children dearly”.
Peter Watson, 42, used the bobcat to pick up a hot metal cast, weighing about 100 kilograms, from a bin.
It is believed the heavy load tipped from the bobcat’s bucket, crashed through the windscreen and set fire to the cabin about 11pm.
Mr Watson was crushed and died at the scene, despite the efforts of emergency services to rescue him.
Firefighters attended and extinguished the blaze.
Workers were sent home after the incident and have been offered counselling.
The foundry remained closed yesterday while police and staff from the Victorian WorkCover Authority investigated.
WorkCover inspectors examined equipment and the foundry’s environment.
Bradken managing director and chief executive Brian Hodges said the company was saddened by Mr Watson’s death.
“This is devastating news and we extend our deepest sympathies to the affected family, friends and colleagues,” Mr Hodges said in a statement.
“He was a valued employee who has worked for the company for 12 years.
“Counselling services are in place to support everyone at the site, which has been a key part of the Wodonga community for more than 60 years.
“We will continue to do all we can to assist those who have been affected by this tragedy and the company will fully co-operate with the investigation.”
Mr Watson was a recipient of a corporate award for work life balance in 2012, in recognition of contributions not only to his work but also outside his employment.
He had worked on the hard sand and moulding line at the facility, is married and a father to two autistic boys.
A friend, who asked not to be named, said Mr Watson would be sorely missed.
“It’s pretty horrific,” he said.
“He was a top bloke and all the staff there are pretty devastated.
“He told me that he loved his children dearly.”
It is the first death at the manufacturing site, which employs more than 200 people.
Management provided few details to staff yesterday and will meet employees today.
About 20 to 30 staff usually work at the factory on night shift.
Australian Manufacturing Workers Union North East organiser Dave Corben visited the site yesterday morning.
“It’s a tragic thing, this guy has children and family and he won’t be going home,” he said.
“I spoke to management on site and they are ticking all the boxes in regards to the investigation process.
“All the companies I work with, Bradken included, try their best to keep their workers safe.
“The fact is factories are dangerous workplaces.”
Mr Watson’s death was the 11th confirmed workplace fatality in Victoria this year, but the first in Wodonga since 2006.