On 26 October 2022 an individual (as a person conducting a business or undertaking) was sentenced in the Maryborough Magistrates Court for breaching section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) (“the Act”), having failed to comply with his primary health and safety duty under section 19(1) of the Act.

The defendant operated a weed control business. In January 2021, he employed a 17-year-old male as a casual worker. The defendant was engaged to perform weed control at a rural acreage property in North-West Gympie. The defendant and the worker commenced the work on 14 January 2021, on the worker’s third day of employment.

To perform the work, the defendant operated a tractor with a carry all attached to the back of it, which had an 800L plastic spray tank mounted on it, with a hand spray gun attached. The worker was standing on the carry all, with his back to the tractor, spraying weeds, while the defendant was operating the tractor on sloped terrain. Ultimately the tractor rolled, throwing the worker from the carry all and down the hill, with the carry all and spray tank rolling over him. The worker suffered significant injuries, including lacerations to his liver and a bruised kidney, and was flown by helicopter to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital, where he remained for over one month, including the first few days in an induced coma in the intensive care unit. He required surgery and is likely to require ongoing medical treatment, and was also unable to work for an extended period. The defendant was similarly thrown from the tractor and injured, suffering several broken ribs and a punctured lung.

The defendant pleaded guilty to failing to comply with the health and safety duty he owed, with his failure exposing an individual to the risk of death or serious injury in circumstances where the actual activity (a passenger standing on the carry all while the tractor was operational) was not permitted (pursuant to the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (Qld) and the Safe Design and Operation of Tractors Code of Practice 2005).

In sentencing the defendant, Magistrate Fowler took into account the defendant’s guilty plea, and that the defendant was also seriously injured in the incident. His Honour also had regard to the defendant’s financial circumstances, and lack of previous work health and safety breaches, together with his involvement in the community (which references tendered on his behalf demonstrated) and his genuine remorse. Considering all of the circumstances of the offending, together with the purpose of the Act, and the purposes for which the defendant was to be sentenced, His Honour convicted the defendant and ordered he pay a fine of $22,500. A conviction was not recorded.

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

Court Report

Agriculture, forestry and fishing
Date of offence
Lacerations to liver and bruised kidney
Maryborough Magistrates Court
Magistrate or judge
Magistrate Kurt Fowler
Decision date
Individual PCBU
Maximum fine available
Professional and legal costs
Court costs
In default period
Time to pay
Referred to SPER
Conviction recorded