Queanbeyan company fined $300,000 for ‘foreseeable’ work safety breach

A Queanbeyan company has been fined $300,000 after one of its workers was seriously injured when crushed by the load of a delivery truck in what the court found was a foreseeable accident.

Agnew Building Supplies Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the ACT Magistrates Court for failing to comply with health and safety duties causing the risk of death or serious injury.

The accident, which promoted a WorkSafe ACT investigation, occurred when the employee delivered more than 800kg of laminated veneer lumber to a worksite in Torrens in April 2021.

The building materials fell from the back of a truck and struck the worker, severely injuring his head and torso.

The dual operating controls of the crane on flatbed trucks were faulty with the driver’s side not working, something that had been reported but not acted on.

Unable to use the driver’s side controls for the crane, the employee slung the load incorrectly.

As he moved the load, the front set of slings came out of the crane’s hook through the safety latch, causing the front of the load to drop and strike the employee. He fell to the ground with the load landing on top of his head and chest.

Other workers on the site dragged him out from underneath the load.

Magistrate James Lawton found that improper safety management controls, faulty equipment and insufficient training were all contributing factors.

Further, the crane was unserviceable, did not have any service records and should not have been used.

“Taking appropriate measures would not have entailed significant burden or cost,” Mr Lawton said.

“The steps taken post the incident were not complex, burdensome, nor mildly inconvenient. Mitigating steps could have been easily taken, which makes the offending more serious.”

He said the fact the defendant continued to operate the vehicle and crane even after being notified of the problems with the controls was particularly aggravating.

The company received a 25 per cent discount for its early guilty plea.

ACT WHS Commissioner Jacqueline Agius said the case showed the importance of work, health and safety systems in preventing serious injury.

“It is completely unacceptable for these kinds of injuries to occur on worksites. They are not accidents – they are failures of WHS practice,” she said.

“It is clear from the investigation undertaken by WorkSafe ACT that this terrible incident could have been completely avoided by ensuring all staff were adequately trained, and all risks were properly controlled.”

Source: Riotact

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