Hamilton Island transport provider fined after horrific buggy crash
A company has been fined $220,000 for offences under the Workplace Health and Safety Act 2011 after a golf buggy crash in 2016 left eight Hamilton Island resort guests and one worker badly injured. The company transports guests and their luggage to and from resort accommodation. On 10 March 2016, an employee of the company was transporting eight guests, including three infants, from their accommodation to the island marina. She used a registered six seater golf buggy, with a registered valet trailer in tow.
After both the foot brakes and the park brake failed, the golf buggy and trailer gained speed down a steep road. Unable to negotiate a turn, the vehicle hit concrete road guttering, tipped and collided with another stationary buggy. As a result, the employee and all of the passengers sustained injuries including bruising, lacerations and fractures. Two passengers, including one infant, suffered bleeding on the brain. All the injured continue to suffer ongoing psychological injuries.
An investigation by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland subsequently found the trailer was overloaded and the buggy’s brake linings were so worn they were inoperable. It also revealed the defendant only had an ad hoc servicing and maintenance regime.
After a sentence hearing in the Proserpine Magistrates Court today, Magistrate Simon Young took into account CCTV footage of the incident which he described as confronting and the victim impact statements which he labelled distressing.
His Honour noted the company supplied workers with unsafe plant, had an unsafe maintenance and inspection regime, and risks to the worker and members of the public were foreseeable and identifiable.
He considered the nature and seriousness of the offence, general deterrence and denunciation, and the significant physical, mental and emotional harm done to each of the nine victims, particularly the young children.
Magistrate Young also took into account the defendant’s early guilty plea after it had exhausted all legal options, and that this was a first offence.
The defendant was fined $220,000 for two contraventions of the Act and ordered to pay professional and court costs of almost $2,000.