On 31 May 2024, a construction company was sentenced in the Redcliffe 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 performing construction work. The defendant employed the injured worker who was an apprentice carpenter. He was 16 years old at the time of the offending. He had been engaged by the company for approximately 5 months when the incident occurred.

On 26 April 2023 the injured worker was working at a property in Margate. Whilst he was operating a drop saw, it came into contact with a nail and kicked back, causing the blade to come into contact with his hand. The blade amputated all four of his fingers and his thumb. The injured worker was then rushed to hospital to re-attach his fingers.

There was no written safe work procedure for the use of the drop saw, and the training and supervision was deficient with respect to the worker safely operating the drop saw. The offending spanned the entirety of the apprentice’s employment, a period of 5 months.

Magistrate Bucknall noted that the offence was serious which is reflected by the maximum penalty. He noted that it was a tragic outcome for the young apprentice who had been significantly injured.

The lack of procedures which were put in place by the defendant were quite evident having regard to the photograph of the saw in situ, and the manufacturer manual for the saw. His Honour noted the clear lack of training and supervision in the circumstances.

His Honour had regard for the early plea, the conduct of the company in rectifying its safe work procedures post-incident, and that they were a good corporate citizen who had given back to the community in a number of ways. He gave them credit for that.

His Honour ordered that the defendant be fined $80,000 plus costs of $750 and $101.40 for filing. The fine was referred to SPER.

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

Court Report

Date of offence
Multiple amputated fingers
Redcliffe Magistrates Court
Magistrate or judge
Magistrate Mark Bucknall
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
Fine referred to SPER
Conviction recorded