Rocklea tyre recycling business second conviction following $650,000 fine

Thursday, 24 August, 2023 - 12:30
Incidents & prosecutions

A tyre recycling business in Rocklea Queensland which was fined $650,000 after pleading guilty in the Brisbane District Court in June, has again been convicted without further fines when the matter for a 2020 workplace incident recently returned to the Brisbane Magistrates Court.

The defendant, Seven Star Rubber Crumb, conducted a tyre recycling business that used machinery to produce rubber granules from disused tyres.

The two most recent charges involved failing to ensure Workplace Health and Safety Queensland was notified immediately of the incident and failing to ensure the site where the incident occurred was not disturbed until an inspector arrived at the site.

In April 2020, a worker was operating a de-beading machine, separating steel wire beads from sliced tyres when his hand was caught and dragged through rotating rollers. Before it was able to be freed, two of his fingers were amputated, and his thumb and another finger were partially amputated.

Two co-workers immediately escorted the injured worker to the hospital where his amputated index and third fingers were surgically reattached. The functioning of his right hand was unable to be fully restored.

The court heard the Workplace Health and Safety Queensland investigation found none of the machines had guarding in place, fully exposing the metal rollers to workers’ hands.

The day after the incident, the company owner ordered mesh guarding to be installed on the machinery. In doing so, the defendant failed to ensure that the site was not disturbed until an inspector arrived at the site. The defendant also notified Workplace Health and Safety Queensland about the incident on the day after, therefore failing to ensure immediate notification.

In June 2023, the defendant was sentenced in the District Court at Brisbane for breaching section 31 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, having failed to comply with its health and safety duty under section 19 of the Act. The defendant was fined $650,000 and a conviction was recorded on 6 June 2023.

The matter returned to the Brisbane Magistrates Court, on 21 July 2023 where the defendant pleaded guilty to the remaining charges of failing to ensure the regulator was notified immediately after becoming aware a notifiable incident had occurred and failing to ensure that the site where an incident occurred was not disturbed until an inspector arrived at the site.

In sentencing, Magistrate Michael Noud had regard to the $650,000 penalty imposed previously on the defendant in the District Court, noting the previous fine imposed was relevant in determining the appropriate penalty to be imposed for these remaining two charges.

His Honour considered all of the above circumstances, including that the defendant had been placed into external administration and any fine was unlikely to be paid.

The defendant was convicted on both charges without further punishment, and convictions were recorded.