In breaking news, the first industrial manslaughter sentence has been handed down in Queensland.
In May 2019, a worker was struck by a reversing forklift and pinned to a truck resulting in his death. Brisbane Auto Recycling Pty Ltd had no safety systems in place for traffic management between forklifts and pedestrians, instead workers were expected to simply ‘look after themselves.’ The company was charged under section 34C of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (QLD) – the industrial manslaughter provision in a first for the Sunshine State. The two Directors were charged with breaching section 31 of the Act, which is engaging in reckless conduct.
The Court fined the company $3 million in fines and the two company directors were sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment (though the sentence was suspended).
Notably Judge Anthony Rafter noted the following:
- the Directors failure to act directly resulted in the death;
- They were aware of the risk and ignored it “whether due to expediency for commercial gain or complacency, or both, the moral culpability of each is high.”;
- It would have been of little cost to eliminate the risk
- Do NOT be complacent
- You must always have controls in place to eliminate any risk – big or small, and
- Make sure you have proper procedures in place if the work involves high risk machinery – your employees must understand and follow these safety procedures!
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