The defendant held duties under s.19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 being a person conducting a business or undertaking of metal fabrication associated with the manufacture of aluminium tanks for bulk fuel tankers. It employed a number of workers at its workplace, one of whom was fatally injured on 15 January 2013.
The worker was employed as a full-time labourer. On 15 January 2013 he was performing duties that included operating a 6 tonne mobile 'yard' crane. The Work Health and Safety Act requires that an operator be licensed to operate this type of crane. He was unlicensed.
The defendant pleaded not guilty and a trial proceeded on 26 April 2016 at Beenleigh Magistrates Court. The court heard evidence that the worker was seen to be driving the crane to perform load-shifting of steel product. A short time later the worker was seen running alongside the crane which was travelling down a slope, uncontrolled, with no person in the operator's seat. The worker was subsequently struck or tripped, run over and killed by the crane.
The court heard evidence that operating the crane was a usual part of the deceased's daily duties, he had been instructed on the incident date to carry out the load shifting work by a supervisor of the defendant and that the defendant should have ensured the worker did not operate the crane unless he held the appropriate licence.
On 29 June 2016 the defendant was found guilty of breaching s.32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, having failed to meet its work health and safety duties and was sentenced. Magistrate Maryanne May fined the defendant $120 000 and ordered professional and court costs totaling $3571.40. No conviction was recorded.
In reaching a decision on penalty, the Magistrate noted that the reasonably practicable measure required under the Work Health and Safety Act was for the defendant to ensure that only licensed crane operators operated the crane the operating of which was an everyday part of its business.
In deciding penalty, Magistrate May noted the defendant had taken the matter to trial, that the defendant had not been prosecuted previously for any work health and safety breach and had co-operated with the Work Health and Safety investigation.
Considerations for prevention
(commentary under this heading is not part of the court's decision)
When working in the manufacturing industry where there is exposure to risks from mobile plant, duty holders should apply a risk management approach to ensure the selection of suitable control measures including appropriate licensing of workers.
Risk management involves identifying the hazards, evaluating the consequences and likelihood of harm that may result from the hazard, deciding and implementing control measures to prevent or minimise the level of the risk from the hazard and monitoring the effectiveness of the control measures to ensure they remain working correctly.
When deciding and implementing control measures associated with the risk of being injured by a mobile crane, obligation holders should consider:
- Managing the Risk of Plant in the Workplace Code of Practice 2021 (PDF, 1.57 MB)
- How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks Code of Practice 2021 (PDF, 1.02 MB)
- Mobile Crane Code of Practice 2006 (PDF, 1.34 MB)
- Work health and safety laws
- Date of offence:
- Fatal crush injuries
- Beenleigh Magistrates Court
- Maryanne May
- s.32 of the duty under s.19(1) Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Decision date:
- Fined $120,000
- Maximum Penalty:
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: