The defendant company held duties under s.19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 being a large transport company with a number of depots.
On 19 February 2014 at one of its depots a worker sustained a fractured ankle, torn ligaments and tendons when a load on the rear trailer of a road train destabilised after another worker used a forklift to remove a pallet from the driver's side of the trailer. An approximately 9 metre long pack of timber weighing 274 kg dislodged from the top of the trailer's load, falling onto the worker standing on the passenger side below.
The Court heard the defendant had a suite of administrative procedures and policies to address the hazards associated with its undertaking. However, little was done to ensure that all of these procedures were implemented by the defendant company's depots and followed by its workers. In failing to ensure procedures were implemented by depots, and followed by workers, two hazards arose:
- Pedestrian workers working alongside mobile plant, that is forklifts, during the unloading process; and
- Loosely stacked items of freight around, and on top of, pallets stacked on the trailer.
The defendant pleaded guilty in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on 27 February 2017 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 Aaron Simpson fined the defendant $35,000 and ordered professional and court costs totaling $4589.70. No conviction was recorded.
In reaching a decision, the Magistrate accepted the defendant had a suite of administrative processes to address this issue, but they had let itself down as procedures were not followed through.
Magistrate Simpson acknowledged that the company was in liquidation and as such specific deterrence was lesser, however general deterrence and denunciation of the defendant's conduct was still relevant.
In deciding penalty, Magistrate Simpson took into account the defendant had not been prosecuted previously for any work health and safety breach, co-operated with the investigation and legal process, entered a timely plea of guilty and post incident measures taken while still in operation. His Honour also took into consideration the defendant's good corporate citizenship, its operation as a business in a regional area since 1922 and long history of active involvement in the local community.
Considerations for prevention
(commentary under this heading is not part of the court's decision)
When working in the transport industry where there is exposure to risks from unloading trailers, 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 unloading trailers, obligation holders should consider:
- Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011
- Traffic management for construction or maintenance work Code of Practice 2008 (PDF, 0.8 MB)
- Loading and unloading mobile plant
- Transport, postal and warehousing
- Date of offence:
- Fractured ankle, torn ligaments and tendons
- Brsibane Magistrates Court
- Aaron Simpson
- s.32 of the duty under s.19(1) Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Decision date:
- Maximum Penalty:
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: