Record fine for sole trader after death of casual worker

By Jeff Salton on March 30th, 2017

girl riding a chained carousel in the city park

An amusement ride business operator has been fined a record $80,000 after a casual worker was fatally crushed while dismantling an amusement ride at a primary school’s Christmas carols event in 2014.

The sole trader pleaded guilty to breaching the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 in the Ipswich Magistrates Court on 22 March 2017. He was charged and prosecuted after staff were found to have worked on a dangerous component of a ‘chair-o-plane’ ride with little action to remove or minimise risk.

Casual worker Brayden Killeen, 20, was killed on 9 December, 2014 after being told to climb the ride and remove bolts from the centre pole, despite having no training on the chair-o-plane.

When he removed the last of the bolts, the centre pole dropped and the young man was trapped by the pole and chains attached to it. He died at the scene from his injuries.

No controls

The Court found the business operator did not ensure the health and safety of his workers by not identifying hazards or putting in controls for hydraulic failure during set up and dismantling, and no adequate training or information was provided for the victim to identify possible danger and risk.

“If you expect staff to work with or around dangerous machinery, then you must identify risk and manage it to keep workers safe at all times,” said Head of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland Dr Simon Blackwood, adding that this was a tragic reminder to always assess risk.

In sentencing the operator, Magistrate David Shepherd noted a guilty plea was made just six days prior to the trial listing and the ride operator only cooperated minimally with the investigation, even though he faced a maximum penalty of $300,000.

The $80,000 fine was the largest penalty issued to an individual in Queensland under this Act. The operator was also ordered to pay court costs of $3,174.

Unique safety risks

Are you doing everything reasonably practicable to ensure the safety of your workers? Every workplace has unique safety risks and hazards. Some are obvious, while others may be ‘hidden’ to new workers, casual employees or those not familiar with potentially dangerous equipment or high risk activities.

Don’t take a risk yourself. Get your copy of the Health & Safety Handbook. With more than 70 chapters dealing with all aspects of health and safety legislation, it ensures you leave nothing to chance in looking after the health and safety of your workers.

Written in plain English by the health and safety lawyers at Holding Redlich, the Health & Safety Handbook has hints, tips, checklists and even downloadable templates to create your own documents.

It takes the hard work and guesswork out of meeting your legal health and safety requirements at your business.

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