On 21 January 2014, a member of the public sustained fracture injuries and bruising to her upper body, right leg and left hand when a gate fell on her.
The defendant sold and hired out used shipping containers. The member of the public lawfully attended the defendant's yard to close and lock a gate to the premises. This was normal activity as the member of the public lived nearby and was friends with the defendant. The gate was a large, sliding metal structure, weighing 180 kilograms. On this occasion the gate fell, on the member of public, pinning her to the ground.
The defendant held duties under s. 21 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 being a person conducting a business or undertaking.
The defendant pleaded guilty in the Maryborough Magistrates Court on 19 August 2015 to breaching s. 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, having failed to meet his work health and safety duties and was sentenced.
Magistrate Smith fined the defendant $2000 and ordered professional and court costs totalling $1079.40. No conviction was recorded.
In reaching a decision, the magistrate took into account the defendant had immediately eliminated the risk by replacing the gate. Submissions were made by the defence that the defendant had explored Enforceable Undertaking options but the exercise proved too costly. It was accepted a significant fine would impact on capacity to remain in business.
In deciding penalty, the magistrate also took into account the defendant had not been prosecuted previously for any work health and safety breach, cooperated with the investigation and entered a very early plea of guilty.
Considerations for prevention
(commentary under this heading is not part of the court's decision)
To prevent injuries at your workplace, it is important to have appropriate practices in place.
Considerations to assist having adequate practices include the following:
- Establish clear organisational expectations for work health and safety and injury management and communicate these to all employees and actively involve the people who do the work to manage risks.
- Develop, plan and provide resources to implement and integrate work health and safety and injury management systems and incorporate elements of good design.
- Injury management policies and procedures that address return to work practices and appropriate suitable duties and 'support recover at work' are also important.
- Date of offence:
- Fracture injuries and bruising to upper body, right leg, right knee and left hand
- Maryborough Magistrates Court
- Magistrate John Smith
- s. 32 of the duty under s. 21(2) Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Decision date:
- $2 000
- Maximum Penalty:
- $300 000
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: