The defendant company held duties under s.46 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 being a company that manages rural properties. Section 46 requires that a duty holder consults with other duty holders on matters where each duty holder has a responsibility regarding to the same work health and safety matter.
In this case the company provided farm management services to its clients. It held day to day responsibility for farm activities. In relation to this incident the defendant had organised, through its director, that rural plant, here a tractor and trailer combination, was to be used by two young, 14-year-old workers for a work activity.
On 1 April 2016, the trailer was connected to the tractor so the 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 defendant company's director.
One worker drove the tractor and the other manually loaded the pipes onto the trailer. A load of pipes had been collected and the worker loading the pipes was riding on the moving trailer when he has fallen and been run over sustaining multiple injuries. He died the next day from his injuries. The worker had been positioned on the trailer as there was nowhere else for him to locate himself and no other arrangements had been made for his transportation to the unloading area.
On 7 September 2018 the defendant pleaded guilty in the Goondiwindi Magistrates Court to breaching s.46 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, having failed to meet its work health and safety duties to consult with other duty holders regarding work health and safety matters each held a duty for.
Magistrate Bevan Manthey delivered his decision on 7 December 2018 in the Goondiwindi Magistrates Court fining the defendant $20,000. 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 had not, through its director, adequately considered the hazard presented from the plant used, nor considered adequately the work activity and how it was to be undertaken to ensure the safety of the young inexperienced workers. It did not consult with the other duty holders, here the leading hand and the property owner as to how the activities could be carried out safely. Magistrate Manthey considered that general deterrence and denunciation were significant 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, 0.65 MB)
- Agriculture, forestry and fishing
- E226569 - Company 2
- Date of offence:
- Goondiwindi Magistrates Court
- Magistrate Bevan Manthey
- s.46 of Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Decision date:
- Maximum Penalty:
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: