Prison sentences handed down to two directors in Queensland’s first industrial manslaughter prosecution

In Queensland’s first industrial manslaughter prosecution, two directors of a company were each sentenced to 10 months imprisonment (wholly suspended for 20 months) and their company fined $3 million.

The prosecution related to the May 2019 fatality at Brisbane Auto Recycling in Rocklea, which occurred when an employee was loading tyres and was crushed between a reversing forklift and a truck.

As part of the investigation, it was identified that Brisbane Auto Recycling had no safety systems in place at the time of the incident and employees were instead verbally instructed to “look after themselves”.

The prosecution argued that the company failed to effectively separate pedestrians from mobile plant and effectively supervise workers, including operators of mobile plant, and the directors failed to ensure that the business had those systems in place.

Brisbane Auto Recycling pleaded guilty to the offence of industrial manslaughter (an offence under section 34C of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld)) and the directors pleaded guilty to reckless conduct (an offence under section 31).

In delivering the sentences, Rafter J held that the offences involved a high degree of “moral culpability” given there were no safety systems in place and the ease and expense of measures to minimise or eliminate the risks were modest.

The directors were found to be “reckless as to the risk to workers and members of the public who had access to the workplace”.

In sentencing the directors to 10 months imprisonment, wholly suspended for 20 months, Rafter J took into consideration “strong mitigating factors”. This included the directors entering early guilty pleas, showing evidence of remorse and the fact that they provide for their families in Afghanistan, with a higher sentence likely resulting in their deportation from Australia.

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader’s specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed. 

Key contacts:

Jay Hatten – Senior Associate
Christopher Rowden – Principal


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