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January 2020

Labour hire company fined $150,000 after worker crushed in machinery

Boland v Fix Force (Qld) Pty Ltd (2016)

Facts

A labour hire company, Fix Force (Qld) Pty Ltd (Fix Force) failed to ensure that its worker was not exposed to unsafe equipment in the workplace. As a proper guard was not in place, the worker suffered significant injuries as a result of being crushed.

Judgment

The Court noted that in addition to Fix Force’s failure to put a proper guard in place, the employer also failed to put in place any mechanical or engineering controls to notify the worker of the risk of crush injury. For example, there were no audible or visible warning devices in place.

Fix Force was fined $150,000 and ordered to pay court costs.

Lessons

Employers need to ensure that they check the workplaces where their workers are performing work to ensure that all reasonably practicable controls have been implemented. This includes undertaking a risk assessment to check whether higher levels of control in the hierarchy of control have been used to protect the worker.

In the case of labour hire organisations, it will be no excuse that they do not have day-to-day control of the workplace, as they will be required to either not send their workers to an unsafe premises or to ensure that the host employer takes steps to remedy the outstanding hazards.

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