The defendant company held duties under s.19(1) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 being a small engineering business carrying out commercial steel construction mostly in the local farming industry.
A 20 year old, third year apprentice was to assist with assembly, installation and erection of steel framework. On 11 August 2016, he and his employer's director were mounting a roof truss between two shipping containers at the workplace. The director (subject to separate proceedings) was operating a telescopic handler to suspend the structure. The apprentice walked under the suspended structure as it collapsed, striking him. He sustained minor lacerations and bruising.
On 21 May 2018, the defendant pleaded guilty in the Ipswich 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 Donna MacCallum fined the defendant $10,000 and ordered professional and court costs totalling $592.50.
In reaching a decision, the Magistrate MacCallum took into account the defendant's financial circumstances (see. s.48 Penalties and Sentences Act 1992), and noted the apprentice was now qualified and gainfully employed by the defendant company. The company submitted extensively as to its finances and distinguished this case from others. The court also took into account that despite the exposure and potential for serious injury, the apprentice returned to work on his next rostered day. Cases involving more serious injury were distinguished and the court noted the circumstances of support given to the injured worker.
In deciding penalty, the court observed the defendant had not been prosecuted previously for any work health and safety breach, fully co-operated with the investigation and entered a very early plea of guilty. It distinguished the antecedents and nature of this small company with larger “corporate citizens” when imposing the fine. No convictions against the company (or its director) were recorded.
Considerations for prevention
(commentary under this heading is not part of the court's decision)
When working in the manufacturing industry where there is exposure to risks from steel structures collapsing, duty holders should consider the following:
- Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks Code of Practice 2021 (PDF, 1.02 MB)
- Managing the Risk of Plant in the Workplace Code of Practice 2021 (PDF, 1.57 MB)
- Steel Construction - Code of Practice 2004 (PDF, 1.12 MB)
- Date of offence:
- Minor cuts and bruising
- Ipswich Magistrates Court
- Donna M MacCallum
- s.32 of the duty under s.19(1) Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Decision date:
- Maximum Penalty:
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: