The defendant company operated four sugar mills and held duties under s.19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
An 18-year-old worker was injured at one of the mills on 25 September 2014. The process at the cane bin tippler ('the Tip') was almost fully automated. Full bins moved from the weighing area to the Tip, where the cane billets were tipped from the cane bin onto the carrier. The operator was responsible for watching the Tip to keep the process flowing, re-pinning the bins once they had been through the tipping process and keeping the area clean of cane billets and other debris. There was no guard or physical barrier in front of the Tip area.
The injured worker was operating close to the Tip when his right foot became trapped between the edge of the cradle of the Tip and the cane bin exit area of the Tip. Although he does not recall much about the incident, it appears his foot was caught as the Tip was returning to its position in the cradle.
The injured worker sustained a severe degloving and midtarsal fracture and dislocation of his right midfoot. He had several operations on his foot, which were unsuccessful. Ultimately, he opted to have his right foot amputated, which he said was a difficult decision.
On 11 October 2019, the defendant pleaded guilty in the Mossman Magistrates Court to breaching s.32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, having failed to meet its work health and safety duties. The decision was delivered on 30 October 2019.
Acting Magistrate Heggie fined the defendant $75,000 and ordered professional and court costs totalling $1,597.95. The court ordered that no conviction be recorded.
In reaching a decision, Acting Magistrate Heggie stated there were flaws in the system though the defendant was not reckless. There was a failure of supervision and a lack of guarding that made general deterrence relevant.
In deciding penalty, Acting Magistrate Heggie took into account the defendant had not been prosecuted previously for any work health and safety breach, co-operated with the investigation and demonstrated remorse. It quickly addressed the hazard post-incident.
- Date of offence:
- Degloving and fracture injuries to foot
- Mossman Magistrates Court
- Acting Magistrate Heggie
- Section 32 of the duty under section 19(1) Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Decision date:
- $75,000 fine
- Maximum Penalty:
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: