Two company directors have received suspended sentences and a $3 million company fine following a guilty verdict handed down recently in a Brisbane District Court. 

The company, Brisbane Auto Recycling Pty Ltd, pleaded guilty to one offence under section 34 C of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. 

The directors also pleaded guilty to Category 1 charges of reckless conduct under section 31 of the Act, following an incident where a worker was fatally crushed between a forklift and a stationary truck in 2019.

An investigation by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and Queensland Police found that the business was using an unlicensed forklift truck driver, and that the company had no documented safety systems. 

In addition to the 3 million dollar fine issued to the company, its two directors received 10 month prison sentences with a suspension period of 20 months. 

The underlying causes of the incident were identified, with the company failing to ensure compliance with its safety obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act by:

  • Failing to eliminate or remove hazards and risks posed by the use of mobile powered plant and resulting in the death of a worker
  • Failing to provide safe systems of work.

As the first Industrial Manslaughter Conviction to be passed down, this prosecution serves as a warning that serious penalties –  including fines and jail time – are on the cards for managers and companies when a life is taken at work. 

For the original article visit the Australian Institute of Health and Safety. 

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