Townsville business and director fined over trailer collapse in spray painting booth

In a recent decision by the Townsville Magistrate court, a steel fabrication firm and its director have received fines totalling $92,500 due to a serious workplace accident. The incident involved a trailer unexpectedly collapsing in an onsite spray-painting booth as a worker was prepping it.

The establishment was found dilatory, neglecting their responsibility to uphold workplace safety, with the director similarly failing to exhibit due diligence, thereby putting an employee at risk of fatal or severe injury. This unfortunate series of events underscores the imperative nature of robust work safety systems such as Bluesafe WHS Management System and SWMS.

The incident transpired in June 2022, as the director concurrently serving as the manager, aided an employee during the preparation of one of three onsite spray-painting booths. This process required repositioning various objects with a forklift, cleaning dust off equipment and staging items for painting within the booths on steel stands.

Prior to initiating work, the manager utilised a forklift to transfer the trailer into the spray booth and position it atop two steel support stands. An assistant to the manager then situated a 60-litre drum alongside the trailer as a makeshift platform to facilitate access to higher areas. The worker mounted the drum via the trailer’s side rail, but, tragically, lost his balance when the vehicle unexpectedly toppled over, resulting in grave head injuries.

Investigations conducted by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland exposed that the weighty 800-900kg truck tray had been unsteady, especially susceptible to sideways forces due to an uneven weight distribution.

Magistrate Susan Warrington noted the inadequacy of using only two stands for support of such a large apparatus and denounced the drum as a sub-par work platform for tasks requiring height. Lack of formal training in working at height was acknowledged as another factor contributing to this unfortunate incident.

Acknowledging the findings and accepting her Honour’s judgement, it was decreed that using a drum in this manner should have been explicitly forbidden, with the trailer’s stability being ensured by either more or larger stands.

The imposed penalties reflected the director’s oversight regarding adherence to adequate work safety protocols, leading to grave injuries. With no prior convictions, prompt admission of guilt and expressed remorse were accepted by the court. The company was fined $85,000 plus costs amounting to $1101.40, while the director was penalised $7,500 plus costs, without recording a conviction.

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In conclusion, SWMS and WHS systems like Bluesafe WHS Management System spotlight the significance and necessity of adhering to stringent work safety measures and policies.

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