The defendant held duties under s.27 (1) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 being the director/officer of 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 the assembly, installation and erection of steel framework. On 11 August 2016, he and the defendant were mounting a roof truss between two shipping containers at the workplace. The director 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 his work health and safety duties and was sentenced.
Magistrate Donna MacCallum made an order under s.239, that the defendant not offend against the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 for a period of 2 years, with a recognisance in the sum of $10,000 to be forfeited if convicted of an offence within this period. The court ordered that no conviction be recorded.
In reaching a decision, Magistrate MacCallum took into the defendant's and his company's financial circumstances (see s.48 of the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992), and noted the apprentice was now qualified and gainfully employed by the defendant's company. The defendant made submissions as to his 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 serious injuries were distinguished and the court noted the support given to the injured worker.
In deciding penalty, the court observed the defendant or his company 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 history of the director of this small company with larger “corporate citizens” and officers of them when imposing the penalty.
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, 0.65 MB)
- Managing the risk of falls at workplaces code of practice 2021 (PDF, 3.9 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.27(1) Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Decision date:
- 2 year court ordered undertaking per s.239 with a recognisance in the amount of $10,000
- Maximum Penalty:
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: