On 6 April 2023, a company was fined a total of $6,000 in the Toogoolawah Magistrates Courts for an offence under section 43(2) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, relating to a failure to comply with the licensing requirement in section 81 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011.
The defendant company operated a business in Esk which included the leasing of machinery, such as cranes, and where required, an operator.
On 2 November 2020, the defendant company supplied a vehicle loading crane and worker, to perform the task of moving a water tank at a residential property. The worker attended the property on that date, where he proceeded to operate the crane.
That worker had been employed by the company for approximately eight years as a truck driver, machine equipment operator and general hand. He held a high-risk work licence authorising him to operate various specific types of machinery, but he did not, and had never held, the relevant class of licence to operate this particular type of crane. The defendant company allocated this task to the worker, despite the worker not holding the relevant class of high-risk work licence.
The defendant company kept record of the classes of licence held by the worker, and thus should have been aware of the extent of his qualifications in this regard. The defendant company had tasked another worker to undertake an audit of the licenses held by its employees in 2019, which did not identify any issues.
In sentencing the defendant company, Magistrate Guttridge took into account the defendant’s early pleas of guilty and had regard to the purpose of the Act. His Honour accepted that the defendant’s offending arose from inadvertence, but identified that, nonetheless, a significant penalty was still warranted. His Honour considered that general deterrence was of particular importance, with specific deterrence being of less significance.
In mitigation, His Honour accepted that the defendant had cooperated with the investigation, had no prior history of WHS offending, was a good corporate citizen with considerable community involvement, and was otherwise cognisant of its health and safety obligations within the workplace.
In light of these factors, His Honour imposed a fine of $6,000 along with costs and the filing fee, all of which was referred to SPER. No conviction was recorded.
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Sections 43(2)/81 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011