A Brisbane transport company pleaded guilty in the Cleveland Magistrates Court for failing to meet its work health and safety obligations.
The incident happened in April 2012 when an experienced driver was killed after a prime mover and trailer he was using malfunctioned. Investigations conducted by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and Queensland Police revealed that the truck had a number of problems, including a defective warning alarm designed to alert drivers if they left the cabin without engaging the maxi-brake, as well as an air leak in the prime mover’s braking system.
The transport company was fined $60,000 and ordered to enter into an undertaking not to commit any further offence for two years or risk another fine of $60,000.
When imposing the sentence, Magistrate Athol Kennedy acknowledged that the defendant was experiencing some financial difficulty, had no prior convictions, cooperated in the investigation and entered an early guilty plea. Because of these, he ruled that no conviction be recorded against the company.
The court also noted that the deceased’s wife did not blame the company for her husband’s death and did not see benefit in the company ceasing to trade in the face of a fine.
Head of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland Dr. Simon Blackwood said companies should make sure vehicles and equipment are in good working condition.
“Tight budgets are no excuse for faulty machinery or vehicles. You cannot take short cuts when it comes to maintenance. It all needs to be in tip-top shape,” said Dr. Blackwood.
“In this instance, not servicing a vehicle or fixing a fault cost a man his life. He didn’t go home to his family after work that day and that’s not acceptable.
“Employers must not cut corners and put their staff at risk. If they do, we will come down hard on them.”