The defendant company Consolidated Contracting Company Australia Pty Ltd held duties under s.19 (1) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. It was a subsidiary of a global engineering and construction company and was established in Australia to advance coal seam gas projects. It constructed pipelines for large scale coal seam gas production including pipeline trenching activities.
On 16 November 2013, a pipeline labourer was preparing the pipes for welding. A large concrete pipe was being moved into position by a crane. The labourer was cleaning the end of the pipe already in position in the trench when the one being lifted by the crane struck him resulting in a fractured arm shoulder blade and lacerations. The defendant had a safe work method statement, but it was not signed by the workers or implemented. Additionally, the dogman responsible on the day was not suitably qualified.
On 4 June 2018, the Consolidated Contracting Company Australia Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the Brisbane Magistrates Court 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 Wendy Cull convicted and fined the defendant $85,000 and ordered professional and court costs totalling $1086.40.
In reaching a decision, the Magistrate acknowledged that there were safe procedures in place that the injured person had been made aware of and $130,000 expenditure post incident for a virtual training program. Further ameliorating penalty was the withdrawal of operations from Australia with only 1 employee remaining. However, it was a multi- million dollar project and resources were available to ensure training and safety systems were provided and adhered to. The implementation of simple measures would have likely averted the incident.
In deciding penalty including recording a conviction, Magistrate Cull noted that the defendant had a prior work health and safety breach.
Considerations for prevention
(commentary under this heading is not part of the court's decision)
When working in the construction industry where there is exposure to risks from crush injuries, being within an exclusion zone while a load was being lifted, duty holders should consider the following:
- Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Managing risks 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, 0.65 MB)
- Date of offence:
- Brisbane Magistrates Court
- Magistrate Wendy Cull
- s.32 of the duty under s.19(1) Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Decision date:
- Maximum Penalty:
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: