If he is successful, the compensation bill for the insolvent recycler, which would be picked up by an insurer, would amount to millions.
Mr Melchiorre also claims SKM breached occupational and health and safety laws by letting him work in an unsafe environment improperly set up for his job.
Carbone Lawyers’ John Karantzis, who is representing Mr Melchiorre, said his client is permanently disabled because of his work injuries at the site.
“At SKM, the state of the premises was unsafe. He was a hard-working guy, and now he’s totally unable to work,” Mr Karantzis said.
Mr Melchiorre says he has spinal injuries and has suffered stress, anxiety and depression since the incident.
SKM Industries collapsed spectacularly in August 2019 owing tens of millions of dollars and in possession of thousands of tonnes of stockpiled recycling.
The state government lent receivers KordaMentha $10 million last August to restart recycling for Melbourne councils willing to re-contract with the company.
SKM is responsible for the mountain of contaminated and fire-prone glass dumped in Coolaroo, in Melbourne’s north.
A related entity of SKM Industries, SKM Services, was convicted and fined $150,000 after a 2014 Coolaroo incident in which a worker lost his hand in an aluminium bailer.
In November 2019 Cleanaway took over SKM’s assets and is now responsible for day-to-day operations at the Laverton North site.
A Cleanaway spokesman said the company was working with regulators to bring the site to the required safety, environmental and operational standards.
“This incident occurred under previous ownership. Cleanaway has an unrelenting commitment to safety.”
David Estcourt works for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.