Qld company fined after worker fatally crushed by tractor
A North Queensland produce company has been fined $150,000 plus court costs for a 2019 incident that resulted in the death of a 37-year-old worker who was crushed when he dismounted from a moving tractor. The worker was driving six other workers slowly around a paddock as they planted capsicum seedlings while seated in plastic seats in the planter attached to the tractor.
The deceased worker had previously dismounted from the moving tractor to restock the seedling trays and a short time later the planting crew heard a cry for help. He was found under the wheel of the planter and was later declared deceased at the scene by Queensland Ambulance from heart and chest injuries.
The worker had worked for the company for nine years and dismounting from a moving tractor was common practice until around mid-2018, when the defendant introduced a policy prohibiting it. The policy included the statement ‘never get off a moving tractor’.
Records revealed that the deceased had signed a document confirming that he took part in the safety induction a month before the incident, but continued to dismount and was remanded for it three times before his death.
In sentencing, Magistrate James Morton considered the defendant’s guilty plea, and that the defendant had implemented policies and procedures for the safety of workers. However, in this instance they were clearly aware that this particular policy was not being followed or enforced.
His Honour added that the incident could have been avoided if the defendant had been more forceful in enforcing the policy. Magistrate Morton noted that the consequences of the risk were clearly severe, the probability of the risk was very real, and the additional steps that could have been taken to avoid the incident were not burdensome or inconvenient.
His Honour said the incident was a very tragic one as it was a family-owned company that had worked with the deceased for nine years. Although the company was fined, no conviction was recorded.
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