Farm handed hefty fines following death of 14 year-old boy

11 Dec 2018

A Queensland court has recently handed down significant fines to a Goondiwindi farm totalling $475,000 following findings into the death of a 14 year-old boy on 1 April 2016.

It was heard that the teenager, who was working on the farm with his twin brother during school holidays, was tasked with loading irrigation pipes into a trailer that was hitched to a tractor when the incident occurred. The tractor had only one seat for the driver, leaving the teenager to stand on a small platform between the tractor and trailer. Consequently, the young boy fell and was run over by the loaded trailer. He later tragically died in hospital as a result of his injuries.

The tractor, which was deemed to be defective, was not a contributing factor in the incident, however WorkCover Queensland noted that it should not have been available for operation due to its poor condition. The court also noted the company that operated the farm did not have appropriate supervision in place for the work that was to be undertaken.

The farm owners were fined $450,000 for two separate WHS breaches, whilst a manager was fined $5000 and the company $20,000. Court costs of almost $1100 each were ordered against the three defendants and no convictions were recorded. 

Magistrate Bevan Manthey who oversaw the case in the Goondiwindi Magistrates Court outlined that the farming operation failed in its duty of supervision. He cited general deterrence and denunciation of the conduct that led to the death as his primary sentencing considerations. His Honour emphasised that significant penalties can await those responsible for WHS breaches which result in serious injury or death.

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