The defendant company held duties under s.21(2) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 being the owner of a large rural property engaged in mixed farming, including irrigated and dry land crop cultivation and cattle grazing. The defendant had engaged a company, to provide farm management services to it. The company, through its sole director, held day to day responsibility for farm activities undertaken. In relation to this incident the defendant had organised, that rural plant it owned, here a tractor and trailer combination, was to be used by two child workers for a work activity on its property.
On 1 April 2016, the trailer was connected to the tractor so two workers could undertake irrigation siphon pipe retrieval and transport around the property. The workers, two 14-year-old twin brothers doing casual holiday work, were tasked with loading the pipes into the trailer and then tow with the tractor to the unloading area some kilometres away. The person who tasked the workers was the leading hand on the property. This person had received his work instruction from the director of the farm management company.
One young worker was tasked to drive the tractor and the other was to manually load the pipes onto the trailer. An incident occurred where one worker was killed whilst undertaking this retrieval activity.An investigation revealed that the tractor and trailer were in an unsatisfactory mechanical condition and should have been removed from service until repairs were effected. It is important to note that these defects were not causative of the fatal incident.
On 7 September 2018 the defendant pleaded guilty in the Goondiwindi Magistrates Court to breaching s.33 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, having failed to meet its work health and safety duties held under s.21(1).
Magistrate Bevan Manthey delivered his decision on 7 December 2018 in the Goondiwindi Magistrates Court fining the defendant $50,000. He ordered professional and court costs totalling $1092.55. The court ordered that no conviction be recorded.
In reaching a decision, Magistrate Manthey noted that the defendant company did not have adequate work maintenance systems implemented for the identification of plant requiring repair and, if such plant were identified, to have it removed from service until this was carried out. Magistrate Manthey considered that general deterrence and denunciation were of significant importance in this case.
In deciding penalty, Magistrate Manthey considered the defendant had not been prosecuted previously for any work health and safety breach, co-operated with the investigation and entered a timely plea of guilty.
View the full decision and agreed statement (PDF, 5.55 MB)
Considerations for prevention
(commentary under this heading is not part of the court's decision)
When working in the agriculture industry where there is exposure to risks of crush injuries from falling off or under the path of moving plant, duty holders should consider the following:
- Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Children and Young Workers Code of Practice 2006 (PDF, 0.42 MB)
- Rural plant Code of Practice 2004
- Safe Design and operation of tractors Code of Practice 2005 (PDF, 0.5 MB)
- How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks Code of Practice 2021 (PDF, 1.02 MB)
- Agriculture, forestry and fishing
- E226569 - Company 1 - S33
- Date of offence:
- Goondiwindi Magistrates Court
- Magistrate Bevan Manthey
- s.33 of the duty under s.21(2) Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Decision date:
- Maximum Penalty:
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: