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Waste recycler to stand trial over worker death

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A south-east Queensland waste recycler and its company director have been committed to stand trial over the death of a worker.

Yatala based Oil Tech International Pty Ltd and company director Michael Reid are facing reckless conduct charges under section 31 of Queensland’s Work Health and Safety Act 2011. If found guilty the director faces a maximum five years’ imprisonment or a fine of up to $600,000, while the company could be liable for fines of up to $3 million.

In November 2015 Oil Tech employee Matthew O’Brien was burnt to death during an explosion at the waste recycling plant.

At the time of the incident, the contents of a tanker containing a mixture of water and fuel were being unloaded. Mr O’Brien was working nearby using a heat gun when fuel vapour ignited to cause an explosion.

A Workplace Health and Safety Queensland investigation focused on the lack of a safe system of work to prevent ignition sources contacting flammables.

Oil Tech was charged with breaching its duty pursuant to section 19(1) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and Michael Reid as director of Oil Tech was charged with not exercising due diligence in ensuring Oil Tech complied with its duty.

On 20 March 2019 at the Beenleigh Magistrates court both the company and director were committed to stand trial under section 31 of the Act.

It’s alleged by the prosecution that the defendants were indifferent towards or in disregard of the probable consequences of their conduct, namely the risk to Mr O’Brien of death or serious injury.

No date has been set for the trial which will be held in the Beenleigh District Court.

More information on penalties under Queensland’s work health and safety laws is at worksafe.qld.gov.au

Last updated
23 April 2019