The good news and the bad news on Industrial Manslaughter

The end of the Court action* over the death of Barry Willis while he was working for Brisbane Auto Recycling (BAR) allows for various occupational health and safety (OHS) issues to be discussed, but a lot of the online discussion immediately after the sentencing on June 11 2020 was half-cocked and sometimes included a racist undertone. Both these elements deserve expansion.

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Forklifts, penalties and Industrial Manslaughter

A lot of occupational health and safety (OHS) people, including lawyers, were watching the court case involving Brisbane Auto Recycling (BAR) for the Industrial Manslaughter sentence, but there is a more important, practical lesson from this case involving forklifts and the positive duty of care.

One Queensland newspaper reported on June 11. 2020 stated that the BAR has been fined $3 million and the two company directors, both in their twenties, received 10 months imprisonment, wholly suspended. (The judgement is not publicly available at the time of writing)

According to the prosecution case the incident involved

“….. a worker engaged by BAR … was struck by a forklift which was being reversed by another BAR worker…”


“BAR had effectively no safety systems in place. It has no system to ensure the separation of pedestrians and forklifts, which were commonly in the same work areas, and it had no system to ensure that the workers who drove forklifts were appropriately qualified and supervised. It is principally through those failures that BAR caused the death of Mr Willis.”

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Dignity and solemnity at Workers’ Memorial Day

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The Victorian commemoration of International Workers Memorial Day has held on28 April 2015 and was a major improvement on previous memorials.  The politics was muted by the speakers.  There was no tray truck of angry unionists yelling through tannoys and heading off half way through the event to a protest rally that they see as more important than remembering the dead. There was a good level of dignity and solemnity …… finally.

Continue reading “Dignity and solemnity at Workers’ Memorial Day”

“unsafe” work images in the Adelaide Advertiser

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Recently SafetyAtWorkBlog pointed out several instances of the media showing unsafe work practices in images to support, often, unrelated articles.  These types of photos are starting to gain the attention of OHS regulators in Australia.

On 13 July 2011, the Adelaide Advertiser published the picture in support of a sports article about a soccer and cricket player.

Jimmy Okello works as a forklift driver at FrigeIt Logistics in Woodville North, which allows him to spend his leisure time pursuing his passions, cricket and soccer. Picture: Simon Cross

Forklifts are a regular cause of workplace fatalities and standing at height on the tines of a forklift is a serious matter, even when the vehicle is not moving.   Continue reading ““unsafe” work images in the Adelaide Advertiser”

Forklift incidents continue

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One of the the most hazardous pieces of equipment in modern workplaces is the forklift.  Sadly it is also one of the most useful.  A recent prosecution in Western Australia provides an example of many of the serious risks in using forklifts:

  • untrained or undertrained drivers
  • unsafe decisions by employers
  • the safety role of seatbelts
  • labour hire management and staff supervision
  • driving with forks elevated
  • training certification.

Other related issues are the employment of

  • transient labour, and
  • young workers.

According to a WorkSafe WA media release, the basic facts of the incident are

Flexi Staff supplied two casual labourers to the Beds Plus warehouse in Kewdale in February, 2008. The two men were British citizens on a working holiday in Australia. [links added]

It was not part of their labouring job to operate forklifts, and neither had any experience or qualifications or High Risk Work licences. Continue reading “Forklift incidents continue”