The defendant held duties under s.19(2) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 being a person conducting a business or undertaking. It provided educational services including delivering lessons in a Manual Arts Room environment.
On 17 November 2015, during a Year 7 Technology Design class in a Manual Arts Room, a student was injured while using a Woodcraft Band Saw Model 400. The student was using the plant without direct supervision to cut timber for a project. His right thumb contacted with the vertical blade and the student sustained a laceration. The student was under 18 years of age and fell within the Children and Young Workers Code of Practice 2006. He had received training and instruction from the teacher with respect to the use and operation of the Band Saw and had operated it safely and without incident on approximately 10 to 15 occasions.
A teacher was employed by the defendant to provide supervision, information, instruction and education to students whilst plant was in operation to enable them to perform their tasks or activities. There were 22 students in the classroom at the time of the incident.
The defendant has now prohibited the use of the Woodcraft Band Saw Model 400 by Year 7 students and reinforced the requirement of direct supervision for students using it when they begin Year 8. All Technology Design staff at the school have been provided with updated training on the expectations for student use of tools and machinery in the workshop. Most importantly it developed a whole of school policy to prohibit use by younger students. Its policies are now consistent with the Government's state school policy about age categories for use of such items of plant.
The defendant pleaded guilty in the Maroochydore Magistrates Court on 12 January 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 Dean Wilkinson fined the defendant $25,000 and ordered professional and court costs totaling $1079.40.
In reaching a decision, the Magistrate acknowledged that despite the item being properly guarded, children's fingers could still come in contact with the blade, and expressed the need to factor in the age of a child when using this type of plant. His Honour was satisfied the self-initiated comprehensive audit of use of plant in manual arts rooms was a mitigating feature. In deciding penalty, Magistrate Wilkinson also took into account the defendant co-operated with the investigation, entered an early plea of guilty, immediately rectified and audited its own systems and process and accepted this type of incident had never occurred at any of the education facilities run by this comparatively large institution. The defendant had been before the court on two prior occasions and although those matters were relatively serious, the Magistrate saw them as distinct and unrelated. On the basis of all other factors to the defendant's advantage, the court exercised its discretion in the defendant's favour and ordered there be no conviction recorded.
Considerations for prevention
(commentary under this heading is not part of the court's decision)
When working in the education and training industry where there is exposure to risks from laceration injuries from electric power tools, 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 death or serious injury, obligation holders should consider:
- Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011
- Children and Young Workers Code of Practice 2006 (PDF, 0.42 MB)
- Managing the Risk of Plant in the Workplace Code of Practice 2021 (PDF, 1.57 MB)
- Education and training
- Date of offence:
- Thumb Laceration
- Maroochydore Magistrates Court
- Dean Wilkinson
- s.32 of the duty under s.19(2) Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Decision date:
- Maximum Penalty:
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: