Cattle company and directors face imprisonment – three questions you should be asking
In a continuing national trend, a Northern Territory cattle company, its director and another manager have been charged with safety offences which could see them spend time in prison.
The charges arise from work completed by two station hands who were tasked with fencing duties. One station hand was operating a tractor with a post driver, whilst the other guided the fence posts into the ground. During the work, the worker placing the fence posts arm was crushed and it was later amputated.
NT WorkSafe has laid six charges against the cattle company, the director and manager alleging they did not provide ‘adequate training or instruction, and a safe system of work was not implemented on the use of the tractor and post-driver.’
This adds to a national trend that has seen:
- a Western Australian director imprisoned for two years following two employees falling from a farm shed roof while they were installing roof sheets, resulting in the death of one of the workers;
- a Northern Territory man performing cattle mustering work being placed on a two-year good behaviour bond and being ordered to pay a worker $20,000, after the worker suffered burns from using an angle grinder to cut open a drum previously filled with aviation fuel; and
- a Queensland businessman being charged with industrial manslaughter and imprisoned for five years following the death of a worker when a generator fell from a forklift.
Cattle companies, their directors and managers need to be able to answer these three questions:
- What could kill or injure someone in our business? (e.g. working with machinery, heat, inexperienced workers)
- What is in place to stop this occurring? (e.g. training, inductions, maintenance of equipment)
- How is our business tracking on keeping people safe? (e.g. workplace inspections, audits, talking to workers about WHS)
If you can’t answer these questions, or if the answers raise concerns for your company, you may be at significant legal risk if something goes wrong. For assistance in safeguarding yourself and your business, please contact a member of our Employment Relations and Safety team: Employment Relations and Safety | McCullough Robertson
Special Counsel | Employment Relations and Safety
This publication covers legal and technical issues in a general way. It is not designed to express opinions on specific cases. It is intended for information purposes only and should not be regarded as legal advice. Further advice should be obtained before taking action on any issue dealt with in this publication.