On 28 April 2021, a labourer was convicted and sentenced in the Atherton Magistrates Court for a category 2 offence arising from his failure to take reasonable care to ensure his actions did not adversely affect the health and safety of another worker, contrary to section 28 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (‘the Act’). Magistrate Kevin priestly imposed a fine of $2,500 and no conviction was recorded.
The defendant was a 20-year-old worker engaged by a business that owns and operates various cranes. On 28 April 2020, the defendant operated a large crawler crane when he was not authorised or licensed to do so. The worker was tasked by his supervisor, along with another worker, to undertake pre-start checks on various items of plant within the workplace. The defendant had observed a crane counterweight located in front of one of the vehicles and, without instruction, decided to move it out of the vehicle’s path, despite it being unnecessary for him to do so.
The defendant moved the crane into the vicinity of the counterweights, then instructed the other worker how to attach the lifting chains to the load. The defendant commenced lifting the load. The lifting chains were not seated correctly in one of the counterweight’s lifting hooks and, whilst the load remained lifted and under tension, the other worker used a piece of timber to strike the chain to re-seat it. The chain detached from the hook and struck that same worker, causing a minor laceration to his nose.
Investigation by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland revealed the defendant was aware he was required to have a crane licence for crane operation as he had been receiving instruction, training and supervision from his employer whilst learning to operate, and obtain his licence, for a much smaller, Franna-type crane. His employer also had a safe work procedure in place, which the defendant had read, requiring all crane operators to be licensed.
Magistrate Priestley acknowledged the defendant’s early guilty plea, entered on the date of the first mention, and discounted the penalty to be imposed accordingly. His Honour acknowledged the two references tendered on his behalf which spoke very highly of the worker. His Honour accepted that this matter likely arose due to the young worker’s enthusiastic attitude though observed the crane was a large piece of plant and workers must be mindful of the hazards and the risks associated with operating such plant. His Honour determined there was a need for general deterrence to form a part of the sentence to be imposed, but accepted there was little need for specific deterrence given the offending was an isolated incident. His Honour exercised his discretion not to record a conviction.
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Sections 28(b) and 32 Work Health and Safety Act 2011