A NORTH Queensland farm business which used quad bikes to muster cattle has been fined $125,000 following the 2013 death of a 21-year-old female worker.
DA&JF Camm Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the Townsville Magistrates Court recently to having failed to meet its duties under work health and safety laws and was sentenced.
Employed as a station hand who also assisted with mustering, the inexperienced worker was not wearing a helmet when she came off the quad bike and sustained fatal head injuries.
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland head Dr Simon Blackwood said it was a classic case of an employer not doing the right thing.
“No helmet and no rider training – two of the golden rules of quad bike safety ignored,” Dr Blackwood said.
“If employers aren’t prepared to play by the rules, then they are going to feel the full force of the law. That could mean hefty fines or convictions, or even both.
“We have to make sure everyone adheres to the appropriate regulations, but if they don’t, we’re going to come down hard.”
In this particular incident, the court deemed the defendant failed to ensure their UK employee was wearing a helmet while using the quad bike and she had no previous experience mustering.
Magistrate Steven Mosch accepted prosecution submissions identifying:
- Quad bikes give rise to a number of fatal and non-fatal incidences each year.
- That rider experience is a relevant consideration.
- That riders should be trained in safe operating practices
- That helmets should be worn.
He also accepted that there is community and rural industry awareness of the risks of quad bikes, highlighted by several coronial inquests in recent years.
The magistrate fined DA&JF Camm Pty Ltd $125,000 and ordered professional and court costs of $1083.50. In deciding the penalty, he took into consideration that the company entered an early guilty plea.
In reaching his decision to not record the conviction, the magistrate took into account that the defendant had operated cattle stations for more than 20 years without breaching work health and safety laws. He also noted that the company’s operators had shown significant remorse, not reoffended and taken significant rehabilitative steps in the three years since the incident.
“Since July this year, we have successfully completed 19 prosecutions in the courts, leading to fines totalling nearly three quarters of a million dollars.
“Further, we have issued 16 infringement notices with fines totalling more than $35,000, 466 improvement notices and 152 prohibition notices.
“Let it be clear that in this state, we will make those who bend or break the rules accountable, bringing justice to those who have been wronged and deterring others from making the same mistakes,” Dr Blackwood said.
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