On 28 February 2023, a company which offers new and used shipping containers for sale or hire was sentenced in the Richlands 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 company was fined $45,000.

The injured worker was engaged by the defendant as part of a labour hire agreement. On 15 December 2020, the injured worker was tasked with modifying headboards of a flatbed truck. The legs of the headboards did not line up with the slot holes in the flat bed and required modifying so that the legs lined up with and fit into the slot holes. The injured worker was not provided with any instruction as to how to complete this task and no risk assessment was conducted.

The injured worker used an angle grinder in completing this task, he had not been told to use an angle grinder but considered there to be no other way to complete the task. He used the angle grinder to cut off the legs of the headboard, intending to later weld them back on to the headboard in the correct position.

While cutting one of the legs, the angle grinder caught and kicked back, striking the injured worker to his left hand. He sustained a laceration to the back of his left hand from his wrist to the middle of his hand. The angle grinder cut through three tendons, a main artery, and a nerve to his thumb.  He required surgery to clean and close the wound. He lost feeling to part of his hand, thumb, and index finger.

The defendant failed to comply with its duty by failing to ensure that the injured worker was provided with adequate training, instruction and supervision when performing the task he was to carry out on 15 December 2020. That failure exposed the individual to a risk of death or serious injury, which materialised on 15 December 2020 when the worker was injured by the angle grinder.

In sentencing, Magistrate Shearer took into account the defendant’s early plea of guilty, its otherwise unblemished record, and its service to the community.

His Honour noted that kickback was not only foreseeable but was a well-known risk in this industry. He noted that the injured worker should have known this given his industry knowledge and acknowledged that the defendant should have better supervised the injured worker to ensure their procedures were followed.

Taking into account all matters, His Honour fined the defendant $45,000 and exercised his discretion to not record a conviction.

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

Court Report

Transport, postal and warehousing
Date of offence
Laceration to hand and wrist
Richlands Magistrates Court
Magistrate or judge
Magistrate Shearer
Decision date

Sections 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
Referred to SPER
Conviction recorded