On 19 April 2024, an aluminium production company was sentenced in the Brisbane Magistrates Court for breaching section 19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (‘the Act’), having failed to comply with its primary health and safety duty.

The defendant conducted a business supplying aluminum products for the commercial and residential building industry.  Part of the core business was to cut to size and powder coat the metal, depending on the requirements of customers.

The injured worker was employed by the defendant company to conduct repairs on the machinery which made up a powder coating line.

On 21 June 2022 the injured worker was performing a task on the unloading conveyor section of the line. During this task the worker became entangled and later fell to the ground. He died from the injuries he sustained.

The particulars of the offence were that the Defendant should have eliminated or minimised the risk, so far as was reasonably practicable, by ensuring that:

  1. A safe work procedure was developed and implemented for the work which outlined that the conveyor needed to be isolated and tagged out prior to the commencement of repair or maintenance work;
  2. Supervision was provided to workers to ensure compliance with the implemented safe work procedure.

In sentencing the defendant, Magistrate Saggers noted that the risk associated with the task was the risk of entanglement. He noted that the potential consequence of the risk were catastrophic.

Magistrate Saggers noted that the post-incident measures implemented by the defendant were a perfect example of what should have been in place at the relevant time. He made particular note of the control which required the worker to notify someone prior to work being commenced on the conveyor, the worker to complete a maintenance log, and to tag out or isolate the equipment prior to work being commenced.

His Honour noted the impressive antecedents of the defendant company, its genuine remorse, and the relevant safe systems it had in place at the time of the incident. He also noted the steps that have been taken by the defendant post-offence.

His Honour noted the passage from Lang v Amalgamated Food and Poultry Pty Ltd 167 QGIG 245 - “Given the objective gravity of the offence, ex post facto measures and excellent systems which failed because of inadequate policing, are no justification for taking the challenged sentence outside the range otherwise thought to be appropriate to an offence of this objective nature.”

Magistrate Saggers made mention of the range submitted by both parties. The prosecution submitted that the fine should be no less than $250,000, whereas the defendant indicated the range was $150,000-$180,000. His Honour noted that there were some Magistrate Court decisions provided by the defence which resulted in a fine of $150,000 for a matter involving a fatality. In some instances the facts of those cases were arguably worse than the current matter.

However, His Honour noted that he was bound by the range identified in Bennetts Developments of $150,000 - $250,000. His Honour indicated that in his view the matter fell to the lower end of the range. His Honour was reluctant to place a matter involving a fatality at the “low level”, but in the circumstances he said it must fall at the bottom of the range.

His Honour ordered that the defendant be fined $150,000 plus costs of $750 and $101.40 for filing. The defendant was given two months to pay.

Finally, His Honour made note of the victim impact statements provided by the worker’s family, and the devastating effect the loss has had on their family.

OWHSP contact: enquiries@owhsp.qld.gov.au

Court Report

Date of offence
Brisbane Magistrates Court
Magistrate or judge
Magistrate Saggers
Decision date

Section 19(1), 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011

Maximum fine available
Professional and legal costs
Court costs
In default period
Time to pay
2 months
Conviction recorded