Cattle Company pleads guilty to failures that led to serious injuries

The owners of Ambalindum Station in Central Australia have been convicted and fined $30,000 over a 2018 incident in which two workers were seriously injured after a man cage they were in detached and fell from a telehandler as they were being lifted.

Hewitt Cattle Australia Pty Ltd (Hewitt Cattle) pleaded guilty in the Alice Springs Local Court to one breach of Section 32 for not ensuring the health and safety of workers they engaged.

Hewitt Cattle’s work health and safety handbook for contractors outlined specific requirements before the workers could use the company’s plant and equipment, as well as specific requirements before high risk work such as working from heights could begin at the company’s worksite.

None of these requirements were met.

Hewitt Cattle conceded that they should have verified the workers had the appropriate competencies and training to use the telehandler, and they failed to undertake a risk assessment as specified in their work health and safety handbook for work the company classified as Restricted High Risk Job Task.

The Northern Territory’s Work Health and Safety Regulator Bill Esteves said administrative controls such as documented procedure are necessary, but not enough. Administrative controls are the least effective at minimising risk because they do not control the hazard at the source, and they rely on procedural compliance and supervision to be effective.

“Providing an operational procedure manual is only part of the duty, as duty holders must also ensure workers are trained, and competent in the safe use of plant,” Mr Esteves said.

“Most importantly, plant should never be operated without a risk assessment to determine whether further controls are necessary to eliminate hazards from the workplace.”

“The Northern Territory’s How to manage work health and safety risks code of practice details a hierarchy of control measures that businesses and workers should use when managing the health and safety risks at their workplace,” Mr Esteves said.

“If a hazard cannot be eliminated, as many of the risks associated with the hazard should be minimised through a number of control measures combined, which together provide the highest level of protection possible, especially if the risk has the potential to cause serious injury or death.”

Hewitt Cattle was also required to pay a victims levy of $1,000.

Peter Chan
0401 114 569