Company fined $54,000 after elderly woman injured by water tank

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Friday, 6 December, 2019 - 16:45
Incidents & prosecutions

A company in Queensland and one of its officers have been fined $54,000 after a woman was injured when a water tank being delivered to her property struck her.

Both defendants pleaded guilty in the Brisbane Magistrates Court over breaches to section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 for failing to comply with its duty under s.19(2).

The prosecution by the Office of the Work Health and Safety Prosecutor revealed that on 17 May 2018, an elderly woman was injured when a large water tank weighing approximately 400kg struck her as it was being unloaded at her rural property.

The tank was supplied and delivered by the company. The delivery driver had only been employed by the company for 14 days.

The court heard the driver had received “hands-on” training in a system for the delivery of tanks by pushing the tanks off the truck or trailer onto the ground. The tanks would bounce and roll some distance before coming to a stop when pushed off the truck or trailer.

There was no system of establishing an exclusion zone and lowering the tanks to the ground in a controlled manner.

The woman was struck when she walked in the path of the tank being pushed off the trailer, and, although the driver did not warn her before he pushed the tank off the trailer, it was clear that he was in the process of unloading the tank.

The driver did not see the woman when he pushed the tank to the ground and was unaware that she had moved into the path of the tank.

The tank knocked the homeowner to the ground and she suffered a fractured sternum, soft tissue injuries, bruising and a laceration above her eye.

The court heard that although the company had procedures in place for unloading of tanks, the driver had not been trained in the procedures, which included where customers were to put themselves in dangerous situations.

Following the incident, the company sought assistance from Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and amended its procedure to include the establishment of exclusion zones and the controlled lowering of tanks.

The company was fined $34,000 and ordered to pay costs of nearly $850. The officer was fined $20,000 and ordered to pay costs of nearly $850.

No convictions were recorded, with the court noting the early pleas, considerable remorse and full cooperation with the WHSQ investigation.