Recent Queensland OHS prosecutions

In early October 2009, Workplace Health and Safety in Queensland (WHSQ) released a raft of media statements about recent court cases involving OHS prosecutions.  WHSQ seems to do this regularly rather than releasing each statement individual.  Below is a quick cut and paste from the media reports:

Brown Engineering & Construction Pty Ltd has been fined $38,000 after a worker was injured in a fall on a construction site in April 2007.  It pleaded guilty to having failed to ensure workplace safety.

The Court heard a worker for a sub-contractor on the construction site where the company was principal contractor had placed a ladder against a steel beam on the building to access the roof frame/purlins to take measurements. His left leg was broken when the beam fell, causing him to fall 5.5 metres to the ground.

The WHSQ investigation revealed the company was responsible for leaving the steel beam unsecured at the end of work the previous day.


Russell Matthew Pratt has been fined $8,000 after a worker was severely injured at Sheldon in August 2006.

Pratt pleaded guilty in the Cleveland Industrial Magistrates Court on 24 April 2009 to having failed to ensure workplace safety.

The court heard that during a tree-felling operation a worker was struck by a falling tree and sustained multiple injuries to the spine, chest and head resulting in him becoming a quadriplegic.

Two workers started work that day at Mr Pratt’s premises and were supplied with equipment for the day’s activities. However, they were unaware that the task they were being used for was not Mr Pratt’s job.

The WHSQ investigation found that Mr Pratt did not have systems in place to ensure his workers were not exposed to health and safety risks at the times that they were undertaking work for him.


LaSpina, Trabucco & Co Pty Ltd has been fined $34,000 after a worker was injured at Karana Downs in August 2008.  The company pleaded guilty to having failed to ensure workplace safety.

The Court heard a tele-lifter, its bucket filled with concrete, had been parked by the company’s supervisor on an incline with the engine idling while two workers stood in a trench nearby scooping concrete from the bucket, filling a besser-brick wall.

As the machine was moved forward to allow easier access it’s front wheels went over the edge of the incline. One worker jumped out to the way avoiding injury, but the other was struck in the chest and lower left leg and pushed against a besser block wall which then collapsed and fell on top of him. He sustained a crush injury to his left leg.

The WHSQ investigation revealed the workplace did not have a work method statement for the job being performed or for high risk construction using mobile plant.


Launderers Pty Ltd has been fined $35,000 after two workers were injured at Southport in April 2008.  The company pleaded guilty to having failed to ensure workplace safety.

The court heard the two workers were attempting to ‘un-jam’ a piece of metal that caused a guided platform hoist to cease operating. The platform hoist was used to raise and lower materials between floors.  When the wedged piece of metal was released, the platform hoist, along with the two workers, fell to the ground floor.

One worker sustained crush injuries and the other a fractured right arm.

The WHSQ investigation revealed the company did not adopt and implement a safe system of work for the operation of the guided platform hoist. It also failed to adopt and implement a safe system of work for how maintenance or repairs were to be undertaken on the hoist.


Mark Frawley Plumbing Pty Ltd has been fined $30,000 after a worker sustained facial injuries in a workplace incident at East Brisbane in November 2007.  The company pleaded guilty to having failed to ensure workplace safety.

The Court heard two workers were beneath a house working within a 2.1 metre clearance. While one used a 100mm grinder to cut a cast iron pipe, the other, an apprentice, held a torch to provide light. The grinder jammed and kicked back striking the operator in the left cheek causing a full thickness cut requiring surgery and 20 stitches.

The Workplace Health and Safety Queensland investigation revealed:

  • the guard supplied as standard by the manufacturer had been removed at some time prior to the incident and the company could not locate it
  • the system of work used did not adequately account for both the confined space and lack of illumination.

As a result of the incident the company took the grinder out of service and instituted a system to audit and monitor the use and integrity of plant and tools.

Industrial Magistrate Mr Graham Lee, found that the injury occurred because the grinder was used without its guard and the confined space and lack of illumination had increased the likelihood of such an incident.


MJ Fallon Pty Ltd has been fined $30,000 after a sub contractor was injured in a fall from a roof in September 2008.  It pleaded guilty to having failed to ensure workplace safety.

The Court heard the worker was a sub-contractor carrying out construction work for the company on a domestic building site in Toowoomba.

While working on the roof he slipped and fell 3 metres to the concrete slab below, fracturing his left wrist and right elbow.

The WHSQ investigation revealed the company failed to implement appropriate safety control measures such as edge protection for workers when working at height.

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