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Ride operator receives record fine after death of worker at a school event

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A sole trader operating an amusement ride business has been fined a record $80,000 after a worker was fatally crushed by an amusement ride at Collingwood Park State School’s Christmas Carols in 2014.

In the Ipswich Magistrates Court on 22 March 2017, the defendant pleaded guilty to breaching the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 after staff worked on a dangerous component of a “chair-o-plane” ride with little action to remove or minimise risk.

This prosecution followed the death of casual worker Brayden Killeen on 9 December, 2014. Despite having no training on the chair-o-plane, Killeen was told to climb the ride and remove bolts from the centre pole. As the 20 year old removed the last of the bolts, the centre pole dropped and the young man was trapped by the pole and chains attached to it. Despite attempts to remove the centre pole and chains from Killeen, he died at the scene from traumatic asphyxiation.

The court found the defendant did not ensure the health and safety of his workers by not identifying hazards or putting in controls for hydraulic failure during set up and dismantling, and no adequate training or information was provided for the victim to identify possible danger and risk.

Head of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland Dr Simon Blackwood said this is a tragic reminder to always assess risk.

“If you expect staff to work with or around dangerous machinery, then you must identify risk and manage it to keep workers safe at all times. That includes setting up, operating and packing up,” Dr Blackwood said.

In sentencing the defendant, Magistrate David Shepherd noted a guilty plea was made just six days prior to the trial listing and the defendant only cooperated with the investigation as much as he had to.

Magistrate Shepherd accepted that the failure existed even before the tragic consequences of that night, but the fact that a worker died was a relevant factor and had to be taken into account.

As an owner/operator of the business, the defendant faced a maximum penalty of $300,000. However, the magistrate noted the defendant had no previous WHS convictions and was a young man with a young family. While no conviction was recorded, the $80,000 fine was the largest penalty issued to an individual in Queensland under this Act.He was also ordered to pay court costs of $3,174.

For more information on work health and safety prosecutions, visit www.worksafe.qld.gov.au or call 1300 362 128.

Ends.

Media contact: 0478 332 200 or oirmedia@justice.qld.gov.au

Last updated
29 May 2017