The defendant company held duties under s. 19(1) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 being a company providing personnel for a meat processing facility.
On the 12 of May 2014, a worker was in an area where frozen product are put on pallets before being moved by forklifts. As the worker kneeled down to remove product from a pallet, a forklift approached to pick up the pallet. The forklift tooted its horn and proceeded forward to lift and move the pallet forward, the worker was still kneeling between the pallets and as a result was pushed against the second pallet with some force causing broken ribs.
The defendant was prosecuted for failing to monitor adequate traffic management procedures for moving plant and pedestrians.
The defendant pleaded guilty in the Gatton Magistrates Court on the 13 of December 2016 to breaching s. 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, having failed to meet its work health and safety duties.
Magistrate Lee fined the defendant $35,000 and ordered professional and court costs totaling $1083.50. No conviction was recorded.
In reaching a decision, the Magistrate acknowledged that the company did have policies and procedures in place, however, they were not monitored and not effective administrative controls. The company, post incident, completely overhauled its systems and now has fixed exclusion zones and spotters. The Court found that general deterrence is important, but took a balanced view in utilising the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992, considering deterrence, rehabilitation and cooperation.
In giving the defendant the benefit of an order that no conviction be recorded, the Magistrate acknowledged cooperation with the investigation and no previous convictions under occupational health and safety legislation.
Considerations for prevention
(commentary under this heading is not part of the court's decision)
When working in the industry where there is exposure to risks from injury from collisions with mobile plant, duty holders should apply a risk management approach to ensure the selection of suitable control measures.
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 injury, obligation holders should consider:
- Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011
- Managing the risk of falls at workplaces code of practice 2021 (PDF, 3.9 MB)
- Agriculture, forestry and fishing
- Date of offence:
- Broken ribs
- Gatton Magistrates Court
- Mr Graham Lee
- s. 32 under s.19(1) of Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Decision date:
- Maximum Penalty:
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: