The defendant company held duties under s.19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 being a person in control of a business or undertaking.
It operated a business manufacturing housing frames, trusses and laminated beams. It employed the injured worker as a general labourer about three months prior to the incident. The company's long term maintenance manager was appointed as a supervisor and was to oversee training of this worker. That person in turn allocated other staff to undertake this role.
On 18 June 2012, during the course of maintaining a finger joiner, the worker's right arm was traumatically amputated. There were no eyewitnesses. The company had installed a 1.4 meter high fence and interlock gate system. The worker was present on occasions when other staff, including the maintenance manager, had by-passed the system in order to undertake general maintenance of the equipment whilst the machine was operating.
The court was advised that the manner in which the induction material was supplied to the worker fell short. It was either sent home to read, sign and return or handed to the worker on the job and asked to sign. The operation manual for subject plant had clear warnings and safety instructions but was not shown to him.
The defendant pleaded guilty in the Beenleigh Magistrates Court on 22 February 2016 to breaching s. 33 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and was sentenced.
Magistrate Paul Johnstone fined the defendant $50,000 and ordered professional costs totaling $2,000. No conviction was recorded.
In reaching a decision, the magistrate accepted a submission that the company spent significant time and money endeavoring to ensure safety aspects were addressed and maintained. He noted however that processes had fallen down at a fundamental stage, by letting an untrained worker observe inappropriate actions of more experienced staff.
The defendant was sentenced on the basis that it failed to adequately train, supervise and monitor a senior worker in his role as a supervisor of others at the workplace. He noted the defendant had a previous conviction, albeit for an offence over 10 years old, relating to training of inexperienced staff.
In deciding penalty, Magistrate Johnstone took into account the defendant cooperated with the investigation and entered a plea of guilty.
Considerations for prevention
(commentary under this heading is not part of the court's decision)
When deciding and implementing control measures associated with the risk of crush injuries and traumatic amputations, obligation holders should consider the following resources:
- Manufacturing industry
- How to manage work health and safety risks code of practice 2021 (PDF, 0.65 MB)
- Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- In in for the long haul: the Tiffany Ward story
- Date of offence:
- Amputation of arm
- Beenleigh Magistrates Court
- Mr Paul Johnstone
- s.33 of the duty under s.19 Work Health and Safety Act 2001
- Decision date:
- Maximum Penalty:
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: