Truro quarry fined $479,000 over worker death

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.
Wednesday, 30 November, 2022 - 13:00
Incidents & prosecutions
South Australia

A quartzite quarry operator and a labour hire company in South Australia have been fined a total of $479,000 following the death of a worker in April 2020.

Kara Resources, trading as Hallett Resources Truro, and Taurus Recruitment both pleaded guilty in the South Australian Employment Tribunal (SAET) for breaches of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012.

A 29-year-old man suffered fatal head injuries when he entered a cavity of a rock crushing machine and attempted to remove a metal blockage at the quarry near Truro, about 100km northeast of Adelaide.

When the blockage was released, stored energy from within the machine caused its components to move under considerable force, striking the worker in the head.

No risk assessment or safe work method was created for this hazardous task, and no training was provided to the worker in the removal of metal blockages.

SafeWork SA’s investigation identified that the risk of injury was foreseeable, and the incident could have been avoided had the company had adequate training and safe work procedures in place.

Kara Resources failed to provide and maintain as far as is reasonably practicable:

  • A safe system of work for the task, as it did not perform an adequate hazard identification and risk assessment process specific to the task
  • Information, training, instruction or supervision that is necessary to protect all persons from risks to their health and safety arising from work carried out as part of the conduct of its business.

Taurus Recruitment failed to adequately consult, cooperate, and coordinate with the host employer to ensure that adequate hazard identification and risk assessments process were in place.

It also failed to ensure that the host employer-provided and maintained adequate safe work method statements and documented safe work procedures in relation to the safe operation and safe removal of metal blockages.

The SAET convicted Kara Resources and imposed a fine of $650,000 (reduced to $455,000 after a 30 per cent discount for an early guilty plea) plus legal fees.

Taurus Recruitment, the labour-hire company that employed the worker, was also convicted and fined $40,000 (reduced to $24,000 after a 40 per cent discount for early guilty pleas) plus legal fees.

The deceased worker was employed by Taurus Recruitment on 14 March 2020 and had worked at the quartzite quarry for the five weeks leading up to the incident.