A Sunshine Coast concreting company has been fined $500,000 following a workplace incident in 2019.
Brian Andrew Cordwell, the director of Cordwell Resources, was handed a wholly suspended six-month prison sentence after it was found that his instructions resulted in physical harm to another person.
The incident occurred on March 18, 2019, three days after a failure at the company’s sand mine in Chevallum, where a suction line on the sand-wash equipment broke.
On the day of the incident, Cordwell devised a plan which involved using a front-end loader to raise two employees, brothers Steel and Quinlen Adams, approximately 4.5 metres in the air to conduct the repairs, while another employee operated the loader.
Cordwell guided the front-end loader operator into position and then left the employees to work on the equipment.
While conducting the work the court heard the loader’s bucket began to tilt forward, causing Quinlen Adams to jump to a steel crossbeam for safety.
Meanwhile, Steel Adams stood up and caught the back of his head on the top of the loader bucket, resulting in two lacerations measuring 6–10 centimetres.
Cordwell pleaded guilty to one count each of reckless conduct under the Queensland Health and Safety Act in the Maroochydore District Court last month.
In sentencing, Judge Gary Long noted that the incident was reported to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland on the day of the offence.
“There was cooperation in the investigation being conducted by providing documents,” he said.
“There were policies for the company for working at heights, risk assessment and for hazard management procedures.
“In the document dealing with working at height – it outlined that a safety harness was required as personal protective equipment and that a cherry picker, scaffolding or tools as required.
“In further significance to the investigation, it was noted that the workers had previously performed work from the bucket of an excavator or wheel loader on other occasions.”
The court heard Steel Adams — the man who suffered the head laceration — is in a relationship with Cordwell’s daughter.
“The decision in relation to Steel Adams as he sets out the ongoing impact on him is complicated by his being in a relationship of some seven years with your daughter,” Judge Long said.
“I won’t go into that.”
Judge Gary Long said he accepted Cordwell and the company’s cooperation during court proceedings.
“It is to be accepted that, the offending conduct was serious the risk presented to the young workers working in the bucket of the loader was high.
“Whilst it is noted there is a necessity to have regard to the emotional and physical harm done – it is fortunate for all concerned that it was not more extensive.
“It is particularly necessary that there be sentences imposed for each defendant which not only serve to denounce such serious conduct, but which also serve to deter repetition.
“There is also a need to have regard for the cooperation and facilitation of the processes before the court, as involved in the acceptance of guilt.
“It is to be accepted that there is an element of sincere regret for what you did here, Brian Cordwell, and for the company.
“Neither you or the company have any prior convictions under the Workplace Health and Safety Act, and it may be accepted that your offending, Brian Cordwell, was uncharacteristic.”
Judge Long gave Cordwell Resources 12 months to pay the $500,000 fine.
The company are also facing another legal battle with the Noosa Council in the Maroochydore Planning and Environment Court, after council formally filed proceedings against the Kin Kin quarry operator.
Source: ABC News