First Conviction for Industrial Manslaughter (Qld)
On 11 June 2020, the first conviction and sentence for a charge of industrial manslaughter was imposed in the Brisbane District Court.
Brisbane Auto Recycling Pty Ltd operated an auto wrecking business where in 2019, a worker was struck by a reversing forklift being operated by another worker. The company was the first to be prosecuted for the offence of industrial manslaughter under s 34C of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld). It was convicted and fined $3m.
Two directors of the company were each charged with an offence of reckless conduct under s 31 of the Act—not with industrial manslaughter. Although not the first prosecution in Queensland for an offence of reckless conduct, it is an offence that is infrequently prosecuted. Each director was convicted and sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment, wholly suspended for 20 months.
The significance of this case is that as a criminal proceeding substantial penalties can apply for breaches. This can include imprisonment albeit it appears such a penalty is confined to the most serious of offences.
Further to the above, risk assessors in security (and safety) should consider the likelihood of operational incidents that can cause serious injury or death and recommend treatments that might avoid breaches under workplace health and safety. This includes treatments to eliminate or minimise OVA (occupational violence and aggression), bullying and harassment, and reckless behaviour in the workplace by co-workers.