David McClorey, 31, was working on a power line construction project near Kinbuck in Perth and Kinross when the accident occurred on April 11 2012.
The excavator operator, from South Queensferry, West Lothian, became trapped between a road roller and an excavator during an attempt to transfer fuel from one machine to the other.
The driver of the roller, Paul Cooper, told a fatal accident inquiry in Stirling that he had sight of Mr McClorey as he reversed the machine towards the excavator.
In a written judgement, Sheriff William Gilchrist said: “There was a defect in the system of working which contributed to the accident resulting in the death, namely that the reversing operation was not conducted in accordance with normal safe practices.”
He added: “The syphoning could have been undertaken without requiring the roller to reverse.
“Secondly, even if the reversing manoeuvre had been required, Mr McClorey should and could have been positioned differently from that described in either of the two scenarios explored at this inquiry.”
Mr McClorey, an employee of RJT Excavations, died from multiple injuries when he was crushed between the machines at a temporary access track which was under construction off the B8033 Dunblane to Braco road.
Balfour Beattie Utilities Solutions was the principal contractor on the project to construct a new transmission power line from Beauly to Denny.
The inquiry into the workman’s death heard evidence over four days in December.
Sheriff Gilchrist said he agreed with the assessment by the Health and Safety Executive that the method of refuelling did not present a significant risk in itself.
He said: “I am also satisfied that there was no need to undertake a specific risk assessment or provide a method statement for a refuelling or syphoning task.”
The sheriff said he wished to convey his sympathy to Mr McClorey’s family “for their tragic loss”.