Employer fined $5000 for not reporting workplace injury

A transport company has been fined $5000 for not reporting a serious workplace injury after an incident in which a worker was hospitalised for a week

The company pleaded guilty in the Toowoomba Magistrates Court recently to breaching the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 in that it failed its duty to report a notifiable incident arising out of the conduct of the business.

The court heard that the defendant company operated a small transport business specialising in livestock transportation when, on 8 March 2018, two workers employed by the company transported a broken-down truck on the tray of a tilt tray truck to a site in Wacol for repair.

While at that site, one of the workers fell from the tray of the stationary tilt tray truck, striking his head on the ground below. The other worker contacted the company director that same day to report the incident.

The court heard the injured worker was transported to hospital by ambulance where he was admitted as an inpatient for seven days and received treatment for a fractured skull.

The incident first came to the regulator’s notice on or around 18 June 2019, when Workplace Health and Safety Queensland was notified of the incident by the injured worker. At no time, prior to or following 18 June 2019, did the company notify Workplace Health and Safety Queensland of the incident.

Magistrate Kay Ryan said the company had failed its duty to notify – through ignorance of its obligation – and observed the director was an older man who could be considered old-school.

Her Honour noted that while ignorance of the law was not an excuse, it was a factor that could be taken into account to an extent.

Magistrate Ryan also took into account the company’s early guilty plea, its otherwise good character, having no previous convictions, and financial difficulties it had experienced after being defrauded by a former employee and as a result of COVID-19. Her Honour also had regard to the fact that the injured worker was back working Robertson’s Transport, albeit in a limited capacity.

The company was fined $5000 and ordered costs of $1100, with no conviction recorded.

More prosecutions are at owhsp.qld.gov.au

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