Workers sufficiently involved in a creating a risk to
safety are not beyond prosecution, but operators are still
On 27 July 2006, a worker at a quarry in far north
Queensland was struck by a Caterpillar loader and died. In the
aftermath of the ensuing investigation, the site senior
executive and a worker were charged with breaches of the Mining
and Quarrying Safety and Health Act 1999
(QMSHA). Each pleaded guilty to the
When the matter came before the Industrial Magistrates Court
in Mareeba, the worker pleaded guilty to failing to discharge
his obligations under the QMSHA and was fined $1,000, with no
The site senior executive for the quarry also pleaded guilty
to failing to discharge his obligations under the QMSHA, by
failing to put in place a traffic management system for the
haul road. He was fined $3,000, with no conviction recorded,
and ordered to pay $4,000 in legal costs.
Although few details of the incident are available publicly
or in the transcript of the decision, the decision is
consistent with a number of points:
there is a growing emphasis on individual responsibility
of all workers - even those not involved in the management of
a company or safety, quite apart from any managerial or
notwithstanding that interest, mine operators (like
employers) continue to bear primary responsibility for safety
in a workplace or arising from their operations, through
their ongoing and non-delegable duty to protect against
individuals who have a direct role or involvement in any
safety incident might anticipate they will come to the
attention of the inspectorate; and
any culpability of workers over direct involvement in a
safety incident is unlikely to detract from the
responsibility of site senior executives or individuals
responsible for managing the affairs of the company or safety
A risk management regime based on ongoing due diligence is
essential to control these risks.
The content of this article is intended to provide a
general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should
be sought about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
Australian employees receive certain entitlements (such as annual leave and superannuation) where contractors do not.
Some comments from our readers… “The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable” “I often find critical information not available elsewhere” “As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).