On 25 June 2024, a fruit and vegetable preparation 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 which primarily involved fruit and vegetable preparation. The defendant employed the injured worker as a fruit and vegetable processor. He had been engaged by the company for approximately 2 months when the incident occurred.

On 23 March 2022 an incident occurred where the injured worker was cleaning a double function vegetable cutter machine. He reached in with his left hand which came into contact with the spinning blades at the leaf vegetable end of the double function vegetable cutter. The spinning blades amputated the tip of his left-hand ring finger (down to his first knuckle) and the top of his lefthand middle finger (down to his middle knuckle).

The injured worker was taken to hospital where his partially amputated fingers were unable to be reattached.

The particulars of the offending primarily concern the control measure of ensuring that there was adequate guarding on the vegetable cutter.

In sentencing the defendant, Magistrate Schofield noted the defendant’s plea of guilty, which demonstrated remorse and saves the community time and expense.

His Honor noted that the failure to adequately provide a safe work environment for employees is of course a serious matter and in this case that failure has had serious ramifications. Among the issues noted by the injured worker, he noted that he has struggled to continue to work in his chosen profession and has struggled with tasks that were once second nature.

It was relevant that there was significant training and safety measures in place at the workplace. It was common ground that this matter was distinguished from other cases, in a significant way, such as matters where there were no safety measures in place.

Post the incident the defendant worked with the investigators to make sure the workplace was safe, including updating the operating procedure, ensuring staff read and signed to ensure they had read the updated procedures, making videos, installing guarding at expense to the company and updating hazard ID, risk analysis and risk solution documents for the machine. His Honour was conscious that these updates are things that should have been in place prior.

The defendant was otherwise of good character and operated the business for over 20 years without incident. The defendant contributed to the community through providing produce to those in need free of charge and donating to charities.

His Honour ordered that the defendant be fined $55,000 plus costs of $750 and $101.40 for filing. The fine was ordered to be paid within 28 days. No conviction was recorded.

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

Court Report

Accommodation and food services
Date of offence
Multiple amputated fingers
Brisbane Magistrates Court
Magistrate or judge
Acting Magistrate M Schofield
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
28 days
Conviction recorded