The defendant company held duties under s.19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. It operated a poultry abattoir business which included the commercial sale of poultry products.
At approximately 5.15 am on 16 November 2016 a 61-year-old processing labourer was struck by a forklift operated by another worker. She sustained degloving injuries and fractures to her right leg.
The workplace health and safety investigation identified forklift operators had been directed to switch off the reverse warning beepers between 7pm and 7am as a noise abatement measure owing to complaints made from neighbouring properties. The defendant had an inadequate traffic management plan in regard to mobile powered plant and pedestrians. It had some pedestrian walkway markings but not in the immediate vicinity and those that existed were degraded and barely visible.
On 22 March 2019 the defendant pleaded guilty in the Southport Magistrates Court to breaching s.32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, having failed to meet its work health and safety duties.
Magistrate Dowse delivered her sentence in the matter on 17 May 2019. Her Honour fined the defendant $90,000 and ordered professional and court costs totalling $1,596.15. No conviction was recorded.
The Magistrate remarked that duty holders have obligations under the Act which they must take seriously. If a risk to the health and safety of workers cannot be eliminated then duty holders must minimize them, so far as is reasonably practicable.
Her Honour noted that a serious aspect of this case was that a designed safety feature of the forklift had been disengaged. The risk of an incident and the potential for serious injury was foreseeable. In this case the impact of the incident on the injured worker was significant and she has not returned to work.
The Court was advised the company has implemented significant changes to its health and safety policies and procedures and made structural changes to the layout of the premises in order to improve safety.
In deciding penalty, Magistrate Dowse took into account the defendant had not been previously prosecuted for any work health and safety breach, had entered an early plea of guilty and was remorseful.
- Date of offence:
- Fracture and de-gloving injures to leg
- Southport Magistrates Court
- Magistrate Dowse
- s.32 of the duty under s.19(1) Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Decision date:
- $90,000 fine
- Maximum Penalty:
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: