Toll Transport Pty Ltd (Toll) was fined $1 million in
December last year when an employee driving a prime mover ran over
and fatally injured another employee, Mr Attard.
Toll had a written procedure for the work being undertaken by
the driver of the prime mover and the injured employee however the
written procedure was not followed on the day of the incident
because the driver of the prime mover was not undertaking the work
with the assistance of a junior employee as required.
Toll had undertaken and documented a risk review of the work
involved in the incident in 2006. It identified that persons
working in roles such as Mr Attard's had a high risk of serious
injury or death. This was because they worked in the vicinity of an
operating prime mover and the vision of the driver of the prime
mover was almost completely restricted at times.
Toll was prosecuted for failing to provide and maintain a
working environment that is safe and without risks to health of its
employees, so far as reasonably practicable.
Judge Cannon said that Toll's system of work was
'hopelessly inadequate and vague' and that 'this was a
tragedy waiting to happen.' Her Honour regarded Toll's
offence as 'most serious and deserving of strong punishment and
The maximum penalty for the offence was $1,299,240, which was
only reduced because Toll pleaded guilty, improved its safety after
the incident, and displayed contrition and support for Mr
Attard's wife and three children.
Judge Cannon was particularly critical of Toll for failing to
act on its knowledge about the risks of the work being undertaken
A strong message needs to be sent to employers whose
employees are placed in highly dangerous situations... that they
must do their utmost to ensure the safety of those employees. If
they do not meet their obligations in this regard, then they should
know that they will be met with strong punishment... in
environments, as was the case here, where the risk of catastrophic
injury or death is high, constant and readily foreseeable, the term
"so far as reasonably practicable" must involve the
creation of strict, rigorous and comprehensive standards which are
then religiously maintained.
This case serves as a reminder for employers to be vigilant when
undertaking risk assessments and implementing safe systems of work.
Most tragically, an employer's failure in this regard can
result in serious injury or death of a person. It is for this
reason that the Courts will impose a high penalty on those who do
not meet the required safety standards. If any employers would like
advice about their safety compliance and risks, they can contact
our Workplace Relations and Safety team.
Cooper Grace Ward is a leading Australian law firm based in
This publication is for information only and is not legal
advice. You should obtain advice that is specific to your
circumstances and not rely on this publication as legal advice. If
there are any issues you would like us to advise you on arising
from this publication, please contact Cooper Grace Ward
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An employer's duty is very high and can include engaging experts to inspect things such as stairways for latent defects.
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