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Queensland's first sentence for industrial manslaughter handed down, representing a 'reset' of the work health and safety 'risk landscape'

12 June 2020
Three defendants have today received highly significant sentences after pleading guilty to industrial manslaughter and reckless conduct charges arising out of the one incident.  
The three work health and safety (WHS) charges stem from a workplace fatality which occurred on 17 May 2019, when a worker was tragically killed when struck by a reversing forklift at a wrecking yard in Rocklea, on the outskirts of Brisbane. 

Brisbane Auto Recycling Pty Ltd (Brisbane Auto Recycling) was convicted of industrial manslaughter and received a fine of $3 million, after pleading guilty to the new offence of industrial manslaughter under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) (the WHS Act). This is the first offence prosecuted under the new industrial manslaughter provision in Queensland.   

The Industrial Manslaughter offence by Brisbane Auto Recycling offence arose by the company negligently causing the death of a worker, by failing to have a system to effectively separate pedestrians from mobile plant, and failing to effectively supervise workers, including the operators of mobile plant.

The two Directors of the defendant, Asadullah Hussaini and Mohammad Ali Jan Karimi, after pleading guilty in April 2020, today both received sentences of ten months imprisonment, wholly suspended for an operational period of 20 months, for offences of reckless conduct (category 1) under the WHS Act. Both Directors were sentenced for their serious due diligence failures to ensure the company had in place effective systems for separation of mobile plant and workers onsite. 

Evidence was presented by the prosecution that easily ascertainable control measures would have prevented the exposures to risk and hence the offences. 

Brisbane Auto Recycling was liable for a maximum fine of up to $10 million. The company's directors, as corporate 'officers' were liable for a penalty of up to $600,000 each, or five years jail.  

The handing down of the sentences by Judge Rafter represents a 'reset' of the WHS 'risk landscape'. The penalties imposed now become a benchmark for future sentencing, and generally will give the courts greater confidence in awarding higher penalties for WHS breaches.   

All Corporate officers and managers, (not just directors), need to continue to 'ensure' that due diligence systems are both carried out carefully and reviewed regularly, in order to avoid the very real risk of large fines and/or potential custodial sentences for individuals for serious incidents and fatalities in the workplace.  

If you require further information or have any queries in relation to this legal update, please contact a member of our Health and Safety team. For assistance with risk management strategies for your workplace please contact Darren Sharry at DWF Risk.

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