Company and director in Queensland charged for worker’s death

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Photo: Activedia-1, Pixabay

A company and its director are facing charges for the death of a worker at a waste recycling facility in Yatala in November 2015.

As a category 1 offence involving reckless conduct, the director faces a maximum five years’ imprisonment or a fine of $600,000, while the company could be liable for fines of up to $3m.

It is alleged that the victim was using a heat gun close to where a tanker containing water and unleaded petrol was being unloaded when he was engulfed by flames and died.

The evidence gathered during the investigation of the incident raised serious questions as to systems for testing and detection of substances on receipt, lack of any hot work permit system, adequacy of worker training, and isolation of hot work from flammables.

The director is charged with not exercising due diligence in ensuring the company complied with its duty under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. It is alleged he did not gain a proper understanding of the company’s operations and the hazards arising. The director is also accused of not ensuring the company used and implemented appropriate resources and processes to minimise risk.

It is alleged that reasonable effort was not done so the company could develop and establish controls to avoid ignition being close to flammables.

New tough industrial manslaughter laws have been passed by State Parliament recently and are expected to protect workers in Queensland on the job (Read SafetyCulture’s report).

Negligent employers culpable in workplace fatalities in the state face severe penalties, with individuals guilty looking at 20 years imprisonment and corporate offenders liable for fines of up to $10 million.

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