A failure to use a simple and effective fencing equipment locking pin that would have prevented a worker being injured has led to a property manager being convicted and fined $60,000 in the Townsville Magistrates Court.
The defendant, a farm manager, was responsible for training farm workers to do fencing for the family business.
On the day of the incident, and as had happened many times on the property, two workers were loading 600kg coils of wire for lifting by a tractor mounted crane. A roll of wire fell from the crane onto one of the workers who sustained fractures to his pelvis, ankle and tailbone.
A Workplace Health and Safety Queensland investigation found that a locking pin designed to stop the spindle and the wire falling as it was being placed onto an upright spinner wasn’t in place.
When interviewed by inspectors, the injured worker and his colleague said the farm manager had told them they would save time in the fencing process if they did not use the locking pin. The defendant too admitted there were occasions the locking pin was not used. It was estimated that the locking pin had not been used between 20 to 30 of the last 80 times.
The defendant pleaded guilty in the Townsville Magistrates Court to failing to ensure the health and safety of his workers.
Magistrate Ross Mack observed the locking pin was a simple design and there to be used. The offending was made worse by the ease with which it could have been avoided. He accounted for the farm manager’s remorse, good character and that he had not been prosecuted previously for any work health and safety breach. The defendant also cooperated with the investigation and entered an early plea of guilty.
The farm manager was convicted and fined $60,000. Professional and court costs of $1,289.40 were also ordered.