A sand and gravel business has been fined $ 125,000 after one of its apprentices suffered serious injury in 2017.
The incident happened on May 22, 2017, when a fourth-year apprentice diesel fitter and another apprentice were working on an electrical fault in the engine of a backhoe under the supervision of an experienced fitter/mechanic.
The experienced mechanic was under the backhoe and the apprentice was in the cabin during the time of the incident. Without informing his supervisor, the apprentice stepped out of the vehicle and stood behind the cabin. The supervisor then attempted to jump-start the engine by shorting the motor solenoid with a screwdriver. The apprentice was told to turn the ignition switch, which he did by leaning in through the frame where the rear window is usually positioned. When the engine started, the hydraulic arm of the hoe (located at the rear of the vehicle) slewed to the left, pinning the apprentice’s leg between the boom and the body of the vehicle.
An investigation conducted by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland found the backhoe was in poor mechanical condition, the rear cabin window missing, and the rollover protection was badly rusted.
The apprentice had to be amputated and continues to experience ongoing medical complications and psychological injury.
After pleading guilty, the company was sentenced in the Cairns Magistrate Court under Section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 for failing to ensure the health and safety of a worker, exposing an individual to a risk of death or serious injury.
Magistrate Priestley considered that it was the defendant’s first offence, cooperated with the investigation, entered an early guilty plea, expressed remorse, and was generally a good corporate citizen.
The company was fined $ 125,000 and ordered to pay professional and court costs of almost $ 1,600. No conviction was recorded.
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