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Details of successful prosecution against E188116

Incident description

On 14 September 2013, a 19 year old labourer commenced working for the defendant through a labour hire company. Approximately two weeks after starting work, he was working on a “mesa” machine, which cuts and folds metal into predetermined shapes. When a sheet of metal was not feeding correctly he lifted a guard cover to access a set of rollers. His hand was dragged into the roller with the sheet metal. He sustained a partial amputation (de-gloving) of his left hand and severe lacerations to his thumb, index and middle fingers.

The investigation found the guarding of the machine around the set of rollers was inadequate as it could be opened without the use of a special tool, contrary to AS4024.1602 and Section 208(2)(b) and (c) of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011.

While there was no operating manual for the machine, the defendant had produced three, easy to read, written Safe Work Operating Procedures, which were displayed prominently behind the machine together with relevant photographs. The worker was inexperienced and had no formal training, but had received hands on training comprising of verbal advice and practical demonstrations. He was supervised immediately before the incident, but the supervisor had left him alone.

The defendant spent approximately $16,000 to install interlock devices on the guarding and three emergency stops, immediately following the incident, and intends to spend approximately $90 000 to further upgrade the machine.

Court result

The defendant pleaded guilty in the Townsville Magistrates Court on 15 September 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 Stephen Mosch fined the defendant $35 000. He also made a s.239 order that the defendant not offend against the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 for a period of 12 months, with a recognisance in the sum of $20 000 to be forfeited if convicted of an offence within this period.  He also ordered professional and court costs totalling $1080.70. No conviction was recorded.

In reaching a decision, Magistrate Mosch compared previous decisions and noted similar features. He considered the features of this case were less serious than some others, as there were decent and legible instructions available. Although the worker lacked training, he was supervised (although the supervisor was not present at the time of the incident). He noted the defendant has not placed unreasonable workplace demands on the worker in terms of production rates.

In deciding penalty, the magistrate took into account the defendant cooperated with the investigation, entered an early plea of guilty, had no previous convictions under the WHS Act and was otherwise a good corporate citizen.

Considerations for prevention

(commentary under this heading is not part of the court's decision)

When deciding on and implementing control measures associated with the risk of access to moving parts of plant, duty holders should determine the type of guarding necessary, and put in place safe work processes to eliminate exposure to any moving parts. It is also recommended that operators of plant be trained and competency tested to demonstrate safe use and operation of plant.


Date of offence:
Partial degloving of left hand
Townsville Magistrates Court
Mr Stephen Mosch
s.32 of the duty under s.19 Work Health & Safety Act 2011
Decision date:
$35 000 fine and a 1 year court ordered undertaking per s.239 with a recognizance in the amount of $20 000.
Maximum Penalty:
$1.5 million dollars
Conviction recorded:
CIS event number:
Last updated
02 July 2018

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