NSCA Foundation

Department of Defence charged over Townsville incident

Wednesday, 28 August, 2019

Department of Defence charged over Townsville incident

Australia’s Department of Defence has been charged with three Category 2 offences under the federal Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act 2011 after a worker suffered critical injuries during a maintenance operation.

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) filed the charges — each carrying a maximum penalty of $1.5 million –— following Comcare’s investigation into the incident at the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) Townsville base two years ago.

According to Comcare, one of the RAAF member’s legs was severed and the other severely injured after a three-tonne aircraft arrestor unit — designed to stop planes during emergency situations — fell from a flatbed truck onto them.

The RAAF personnel had been using the truck’s tow motor to remove a nylon belt from the arrestor unit at the time.

The Commonwealth DPP will allege the Department of Defence failed in its duties under the WHS Act to provide safe systems of work, including by failing to carry out adequate risk assessments and to secure the arrestor unit.

The matter is listed for mention in Townsville Magistrates Court on 9 September 2019.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Fabio Balbi

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