On 8 July 2024, a company was sentenced in the Beenleigh Magistrates Court for breaching section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (‘the Act’), having failed to comply with its primary health and safety duty pursuant to section 19(1) of the Act.

The defendant company operated a business in the production of various meat products, including sausages. The defendant employed a number of workers, including Worker A, a 17-year-old worker who ordinarily worked in the production area and Worker B, a more experienced worker, who spoke limited English and worked in the packaging area.

At the workplace was a piece of plant known as a ‘delinker,’ which was used to separate lengths of sausages into individual sausages. Lengths of sausages were fed into one end of the delinker and would pass through a rotating barrel which contained hook-like blades. Individual sausages would be fed out of the exit chute at the other end of the barrel. The delinker had a clear plastic cover over the exit chute which could be opened while the machine was in operation. The defendant had in place a task description for the task of sausage cutting, involving the use of the delinker. This stated to keep body parts clear of moving parts, and to not place body parts in machines while running. While Worker B had been trained in the use of the delinker and was signed off on the task description, Worker A was not.

On 9 May 2023, Worker A was working in the packaging area alongside Worker B, who showed him how to load sausages into the delinker. As they were working, Worker B opened the cover to the exit chute and placed his hand into the exit chute to dislodge a sausage which had become stuck. The following day, the two workers were both working the packing area. While working with the delinker, Worker A opened the cover to the exit chute and placed his hand inside to dislodge a sausage which had become stuck, as he had seen Worker B do the previous day. Worker A’s wrist was struck by a rotating blade, causing the plastic blade cover to break. He sustained a laceration to his left wrist, which was approximately 8cm long. Worker A was transported to hospital and later required surgery.

In sentencing the defendant company, Magistrate Duroux considered the material placed before him and the defendant’s early plea of guilty. His Honour had regard to the factors outlined in the decisions of Nash v Silver City Drilling and Steward v Mac Plant and Mac Farms. While his Honour accepted that the potential consequences were serious and foreseeable, his Honour considered the risk to be a low to medium one. His Honour accepted that the availability of steps to lessen the risk were neither complex nor burdensome. His Honour found that the defendant had not acted in a manner that totally disregarded workplace safety but given Worker A was a young and inexperienced worker, that training and supervision were matters of common sense.

In mitigation, his Honour accepted that the defendant took significant steps post-incident. His Honour accepted the defendant was an otherwise good corporate citizen with considerable community involvement and had no prior WHS offending.

On account of the above, as well as comparable decisions relied upon by the parties, a fine of $70,000 was imposed on the defendant along with $1,101.40 in costs. It was ordered that the defendant had three months to pay the fine after which time it would automatically be referred to SPER. No conviction was recorded.

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

Court Report

Accommodation and food services
Date of offence
Laceration to left wrist
Beenleigh Magistrates Court
Magistrate or judge
Magistrate Duroux
Decision date

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

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