A Queensland Managing Director sentenced to 18 months in prison for safety breaches that resulted in the death of an employee.

A 21 year old employee was killed after he became entangled in a running conveyor belt that did not have guarding in place. His employer was charged with three counts of breaching health and safety obligations, while its managing director William McDonald and senior executive Tony Addinsall were also charged with multiple safety breaches.

The Court heard the conveyor belt had not had guard panels for protection, and management should have known about the issue. The Court was also told that if safety obligations had been completed at the site, it was very likely nothing the employee did on the day would have resulted in his traumatic death.

The prosecutor said, ‘It’s a clear case of prioritising commercial interests over safety issues,’ and asked the Court to both jail and fine the company’s Managing Director William McDonald.

The prosecution had told the court that McDonald was sorry his employee died, but he did not think he had responsibility for safety maintaining that safety was nothing to do with him. WRONG. The safety obligations of senior management are clear.

Company Managing Director William McDonald was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, and the company, which is now insolvent, was fined $400,000 for breaching health and safety obligations.

Engineering controls, such as the installation of plant guarding, and the suitability of the type of guarding that is used to prevent contact with moving parts are critical. Guarding, which may be a shield, cover, or physical barrier, is essential to prevent workers coming into contact with moving parts. Guarding increases safety for operators and others involved in the normal operation, servicing and maintenance of machines. It is important to consult with workers as early as possible when planning to introduce new plant or change the way plant is used at the workplace. Consultation involves sharing of information, giving workers a reasonable opportunity to express views and taking those views into account when assessing risks before making decisions on health and safety.

The June Stand Up Talks pack of 4 team talks that epar will be sending out to our customers will now contain a Stand Up Talk on the important topic of “Machine Guarding Hazards.”  All epar customers will be receiving their free pack of 4 Stand Up Talks June 1. However, if you are not an epar customer we would be pleased to send you the Stand Up Talk on Machine Guards. Simply email [email protected]