The defendant held duties under s. 19(1) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 being a company manufacturing plant. It had operated for many years.
A worker was injured when inspecting an item of plant being assembled on a workbench that was not secured to the floor. The plant and bench fell over striking the worker and causing leg fractures.
The defendant pleaded guilty in the Richlands Magistrates Court on 23 June 2016 to 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 Matthew McLaughlin fined the defendant $35,000 and ordered professional and court costs totaling $1082.50. No conviction was recorded.
In reaching a decision, the Magistrate noted there was a breach under the Act because an experienced worker was carrying out a task that was not part of his usual occupation. However, the plant was attached to the workbench that was not then secured to the floor. It was obvious from a physics-point-of-view that placing the plant on the edge of the table gave rise to a risk of overbalance. Possible solutions may have included putting a counter weight on the other side of the workbench, placing the plant in the center of the workbench, and securing the workbench to the floor. There was no risk assessment conducted. If done, a solution could have been implemented and the incident avoided.
In deciding penalty, Magistrate McLaughlin took into account the defendant had not been prosecuted previously for any work health and safety breach, co-operated with the Workplace Health and Safety Queensland investigation and entered an early guilty plea.
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 assembling or operating plant on unstable platforms, duty holders should implement control measures to prevent the risk of plant which has the potential to fall over, from doing so. Duty holders should assess the risks of the tasks to be completed to ensure:
- the workbench is the appropriate size and shape for the item of 'plant'
- the workbench is on a suitable foundation (stable and secured if necessary).
- Date of offence:
- Broken leg
- Richlands Magistrates Court
- Matthew McLaughlin
- s.32 of the duty under s.19(1) Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Decision date:
- Fined $35,000
- Maximum Penalty:
- $1.5 million
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: