On 9 April 2024, a corporation pleaded guilty to a ‘Category 2’ offence contrary to s.32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (‘the WHS Act’).

On 13 June 2024, Magistrate Shane Elliott imposed a fine of $100,000 plus costs of $1,500 and court costs of $101.40.

The defendant had a duty as a person conducting a business or undertaking, pursuant to s.19(1) of the WHS Act, to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers engaged, or caused to be engaged by it, while the workers were at work in the business or undertaking, that they failed to comply with that duty and the failure exposed an individual to the risk of death or serious injury or illness.

The defendant company manufactures pressed wood panels.

Glue is applied to timber panels by passing through a glue spreading machine before laminate is affixed.

On 22 November 2021, a young worker was cleaning excess glue from the rollers of the glue spreading machine, using a toilet brush to scrub the rollers while they were rotating.

His right arm was drawn into the rollers and became entrapped which resulted in serious injuries including a fracture at the elbow and compartment syndrome of the forearm.

The magistrate referenced the safety instructions issued by the plant supplier (a tendered exhibit) which commenced with a warning in bold red print in all capitals and underlined which provided an important notice regarding roller cleaning procedures. It went on to warn that operators are to never try to clean machine with rollers running.

The operation of the plant had been demonstrated to the company manager and operations manager by representatives of the plant supplier when it was commissioned and were verbally told that the machine was not to be cleaned while it was being operated.

The defendant had no safe work plan for cleaning the machine and had not provided any training or instruction to the worker in a safe cleaning process.

It ignored the safety directions of the supplier, and the company director instructed the worker to clean the rollers while they were rotating.

The magistrate applied the principles enunciated in Nash v Silver City Drilling [2017] NSWCCA 96 in determining that the offending was objectively serious.

The magistrate took into account the defendant’s plea of guilty, that it had no previous convictions and is of good character.

He also took into account the objectively serious nature of the offending and the maximum penalty for the offence.

Applying the sentencing principles in section 9(1) of the Penalties and Sentences Act, he considered the need for deterrence, denunciation and punishment as well as the impact on the victim.

He considered the offending was more serious than in Reynolds v Tailored Adventures Pty Ltd [2019] QDC 150, as that case did not involve an element of reckless indifference.

No conviction was record against the defendant.

The company’s sole director was also fined the sum of $30,000 in relation to the incident.

OWHSP contact: enquiries@owhsp.qld.gov.au (ref: E310337)

Court Report

Date of offence
Fracture at the elbow and compartment syndrome of the forearm
Beenleigh Magistrates Court
Magistrate or judge
Magistrate Shane Elliott
Decision date

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

$100,000 fine
Maximum fine available
Professional and legal costs
Court costs
In default period
Time to pay
Referred to SPER
Conviction recorded