Department of Defence charged after RAAF personnel injured

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Tuesday, 3 September, 2019 - 14:30
Incidents & prosecutions

Prosecutors have filed federal work health and safety charges against the Department of Defence after a worker suffered critical injuries during a maintenance operation.

The charges follow an investigation by regulator Comcare into the incident at the Royal Australian Air Force base at Townsville two years ago.

RAAF personnel were tasked with removing the nylon belt from an aircraft arrestor unit designed to stop planes during emergency situations.

The work was being carried out at night on 16 August 2017, using a tow motor to remove the belt from a three-tonne arrestor unit on a flat-bed truck.

The arrestor unit fell from the truck and landed on a RAAF member’s legs, severing one and causing severe injuries to the other.

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions has filed three charges against the Department of Defence – all Category 2 offences under the federal Work Health and Safety Act 2011, and each carrying a maximum penalty of $1.5 million.

It will be alleged the Department failed in its duties under the WHS Act to provide safe systems of work, including by failing to carry out adequate risk assessments and to secure the arrestor unit.

The matter is listed for mention in Townsville Magistrates Court on 9 September 2019.