The defendant company held duties under s.19(1) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. The business involved undertaking concrete laying.
On 1 June 2017 on instruction from the defendant company's owner/sole director a 19-year-old apprentice purchased a new Makita HS7600SP 185mm circular saw which he was to use to rip cut six metre lengths of radiata pine framing timber in half lengthwise. On return to the defendant's workplace neither the owner/sole director nor any other workers were present.
The apprentice placed the lengths of timber between two utilities that were parked on site. He did not secure or clamp the timber to be cut. After cutting the first length of timber and whilst cutting the second length of timber it started to shift off the edge of the utility. As he reached down to grab the length of timber with his left hand to prevent it moving further or falling, the saw blade came in to contact with his hand and the blade cut across the palm of his left hand from his little finger to the base of his thumb. He sustained a deep laceration to his left hand across his palm cutting nerves and bones in his hand and underwent 10 surgical procedures to treat his injuries. At the time of sentence he remained on WorkCover.
At the commencement of his employment the apprentice was given a brief verbal instruction/induction only. He did not receive specific instructions or training from the defendant in relation to the operation of the saw he was using at the time. He was not instructed or advised to, or how to, secure the timber by use of clamps or other means nor as to the availability of, and how to use, a saw horse/s or frames to support the timber.
The defendant company pleaded guilty in the Toowoomba 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 on 10 May 2019.
Magistrate Carroll fined the defendant $75,000 and ordered professional and court costs totalling $1,095.80. The court ordered that no conviction be recorded.
In reaching a decision, the Magistrate noted the probability of risk was “very high, was identifiable, obvious and foreseeable” and the measures that could have been adopted to address the risk were well known and easily implemented.
In deciding penalty, Magistrate Carroll took into account 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.
The decision has been published on the Supreme Court Library Queensland website.
- Date of offence:
- Lacerations to palm of left hand
- Toowoomba Magistrates Court
- Magistrate Carroll
- s.32 of the duty under s.19(1) Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Decision date:
- $75,000 fine
- Maximum Penalty:
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: