A Director of MCG Quarries was sentenced to 18 months in prison in May this year after a court found he failed his health and safety obligations resulting in the death of a young man who got tangled in a conveyor belt on a South Moranbah quarry in 2012.
The court heard that, despite warnings from experienced contractors, the managing director, William McDonald, hurried to get the quarry up and running prior to external commissioning being completed. The court held this contributed to the death of Sean Scovell, 21 who was working alone on 5 June 2012 when he was pulled into an uncommissioned conveyor belt that did not have a safety guard fitted.
The magistrate said Mr McDonald was “personally aware the plant was operating before commissioning had been completed” and found that it would have been “very unlikely” for the accident to have occurred had a safety guard been fitted to the conveyor belt.
MCG Quarries was charged with three counts of breaching health and safety obligations, while Mr McDonald and senior executive Tony Addinsall were also charged with multiple safety breaches.
The company, which is now insolvent, was fined $400,000, Mr Addinsall was fined $35,000 but no conviction was recorded and Mr McDonald was sentenced to prison.
The company that made the conveyor belt, Global Crushers and Spares, was convicted in 2017 of failing to discharge their health and safety obligations for not installing guard panels.
This case serves as a timely reminder that individuals will be prosecuted for workplace health and safety breaches, especially those that cause the serious injury or death of workers. As at 6 June this year, there have been 64 Australian workers killed at work in 2019.
Directors must ensure that the safety of workers is their number one priority, and that they have well drafted policies, procedures and training in place to reflect this.
If you require any advice or assistance to ensure your firm is implementing effective and compliant workplace safety policies, procedures or training please contact Nick Stevens, Jane Murray or Angharad Owens-Strauss.