Record fine in Queensland over deaths of workers

Monday, 30 November, 2009

Queensland Rail Ltd (QR) was recently fined $650,000 in the Mackay Industrial Magistrates Court over the deaths of two track workers in 2007. The fine is the highest ever handed out to a corporation for a prosecution under Queensland’s Workplace Health and Safety Act 2005. The maximum fine available for the breach was $750,000. The previous highest fine for a corporation involving multiple deaths was $125,000 in 2002.

QR pleaded guilty to breaching section 24 of the Act for failing to meet its workplace health and safety obligations.

Two QR workers were struck and killed by a reversing on-track vehicle (OTV) while working on the Goonyella railway line 130 km south west of Mackay in 2007. The court heard that the workers sustained fatal crush injuries after being run over by the 96-tonne OTV and died at the scene.

The Workplace Health and Safety Queensland investigation found that QR’s safety management systems were inadequate for managing the separation of workers and plant, particularly when both were within the same section of track between signals. It also found that QR knew the systems were inadequate and not working because it had been highlighted to management in a series of audits.

In addition to the fine, QR was ordered to pay legal fees of $80,000 and investigation costs of $50,000. A conviction was recorded.

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