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Details of successful prosecution against E179871

Incident description

The defendant operated a macadamia nut growing business including macadamia harvesting and processing. The company is a small to medium business employing up to 45 permanent staff and 16 seasonal workers.

On 19 March 2013, a worker operating a combined tractor harvester with rotating augers was harvesting macadamia nuts from the ground. During this activity a blockage occurred, caused by the accumulation of earth and debris. The worker exited the cab of the tractor and climbed onto the bonnet where he used a piece of fallen tree to attempt to free the blockage, while leaving the motor of the tractor and the augers in operation. The stick became caught, and was pulled with the worker’s left hand into the auger. The worker’s left hand was amputated at the wrist.

Court result

The defendant pleaded guilty in the Maryborough Magistrates Court on  20 August 2014 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 John Smith fined the defendant $35 000 and ordered professional and court costs totaling $1079.40. No conviction was recorded.

In reaching a decision, the magistrate acknowledged the worker had made a poor decision, and that the defendant immediately addressed the shortfall in guarding, purchased a new harvester so as to prevent this type of hazard exposure, and implemented further induction and training. Its level of mitigation and remorse was acknowledged. However, there remained inadequate training or engineered guarding.

In deciding penalty, Magistrate John Smith took into account the defendant had not been prosecuted previously for any work health and safety breach, co-operated with the investigation and entered an early plea of guilty.

Considerations for prevention

(Commentary under this heading is not part of the Court's decision)

When working in the agriculture industry where there is exposure to risks from injury from moving machinery parts, duty holders must ensure plant is adequately guarded.

Details

Industry:
Agriculture, forestry and fishing
Defendant:
E179871
Date of offence:
19/03/2013
Injury:
Amputation of the left hand
Court
Maryborough Magistrates Court
Magistrate:
Mr John Smith
Legislation:
s.32 of the duty under s.19 Work Health and Safety Act 2011
Decision date:
22/10/2014
Penalty:
$35 000
Maximum Penalty:
$1 500 000
Conviction recorded:
No
CIS event number:
E179871
Last updated
02 July 2018

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