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Builder fined $75,000 over worker’s life-changing injury

A Toowoomba builder has been fined $75,000 following a workplace incident that left a young worker with serious physical and psychological injuries.

The company pleaded guilty in the Toowoomba Magistrates Court to breaching the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and was fined and ordered to pay professional and court costs.

The court heard the 19-year-old worker suffered permanent injuries to his hand while using a circular saw, and required 10 surgical procedures, as well as treatment for ongoing psychological issues.

The worker had been attempting to rip cut framing timber in half lengthways. There were no other workers or supervisors on site. The timber had not been secured or clamped and, while it was operating, the saw began to move before grabbing and jumping on the piece of timber and cutting his hand from his little finger to the base of his thumb.

A Workplace Health and Safety Queensland investigation found the young worker did not receive specific instructions or training from the defendant in relation to the operation of the saw he was using at the time, although he had previously used a circular saw.

The worker was not instructed, advised to or told how to secure the timber with clamps or other means, nor advised of the availability and use of saw horses or frames. The defendant failed to advise the worker of the option to purchase the timber pre-cut from the point of sale.

In sentencing, the court agreed the young worker had been given no instruction or supervision in the safe operation of the saw. The court found the circumstances of the breach a 'serious dereliction of the defendant's duty to ensure workplace health and safety.'

The magistrate said the young worker had endured significant lifelong injuries which would adversely and severely impact on his enjoyment of the amenities of life and his earning capacity. In sentencing, the magistrate considered the defendant's early guilty plea, the absence of prior convictions, a favourable work history, as well as cooperation with the investigation and steps taken since the incident to address work safety issues.

The court imposed a $75,000 fine and costs totalling $1095.80. No conviction was recorded.

Further information

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