Brisbane business fined $60,000 over partial amputation

Brisbane business fined $60,000 over partial amputation

A Brisbane business that provides warehousing, distribution and transport services has been fined over an incident which left a worker with a partially amputated thumb.

The incident occurred in November of 2018 when a number of workers were unloading large plastic rolls from a shipping container. It was heard that the rolls measured as large as 7m and weighed as much as 1.6 tonnes each, and were moved using a forklift with a sling with tension.

On the day of the incident, the workers unloading the shipping container were being supervised by a warehouse manager, who was instructing a young worker inside the container and observing the movement of the cargo.

The young worker reached to grab the sling to assist in moving it into position when his thumb was caught in a pinch point and partially amputated.

It was heard in court that the worker had not been trained in that particular work procedure, nor had he been trained on the importance of exclusion zones. The PCBU did not ensure there was an exclusion zone around the moving equipment, not did he ensure the workers at the site had been properly trained in the procedures.

Magistrate Zachary Sarra noted during sentencing that work health and safety matters are taken particularly seriously by the courts, and that the burden of workers safety falls to companies. While he observed that the worker had been able to make a full recovery, he noted that workplaces needed to take critical steps to ensure workers were protected against harms in the workplace, particularly around heavy loads and the reliance on machinery.

He also noted the prompt action the defendant had taken to establish work procedures following the incident and took into consideration the lack of prior convictions against the defendant, their full cooperation with authorities that investigated, remorse shown and an early guilty plea.

A conviction was not recorded, with Magistrate Sarra noting the good character of the defendant and positive changes that had been made to rectify the safety failings. The business was fined $60,000 plus $1,100 in costs.

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