Worksafe Qld v Don’t Stop the Party Ltd (2017)
Don’t Stop the Party (Company) operates a business specialising in hiring out, installing and dismantling jumping castles. In 2017, one of the Company’s jumping castles was dislodged by a gust of wind and tumbled 50 metres away with a child inside.
At trial, the Company pleaded guilty to breaching its general duty of care and failing to comply with its health and safety duty under the Queensland WHS Act. A contributing factor to the breach was the Company’s decision to develop its own operations manual, which did not fully incorporate the relevant Australian Standards.
The self-developed manual was based on the sole director’s interpretation of the Australian Standards and, as a result, the jumping castle had only three anchorage points, even though six were required.
Although no conviction was recorded, the Richlands Magistrate’s Court fined the Company $15,000 plus costs. The fine was reduced because the Company was not on notice for the risks of its anchorage systems. The installing employee had performed the task 500 times before with no prior incidents and no evidence was admitted that demonstrated the Company should have been aware of its inadequate work methods.
Being unaware of the dangers posed by your company’s activities may reduce the fines you receive but it does not remove your duty to take reasonable steps to remove risks. Also, the Australian Standards are a useful guide to achieving compliance and can help companies comply with their duties.