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The following article is a general news item provided for the benefit of members. Its contents do not necessarily reflect the views of the Safety Institute of Australia.
Date: 
Tuesday, 2 April, 2019 - 11:30
Category: 
Incidents & prosecutions
Location: 
National News

Defence contractors Thales Australia and Linfox Australia have been convicted and fined a total of $360,000 over an incident that severely injured a worker at a Brisbane Army barracks.

The penalties against the two companies followed an investigation by federal work health and safety regulator Comcare regarding an incident at Damascus Barracks almost four years ago where a Thales employee suffered crush injuries during the towing of a Bushmaster armoured vehicle.

In the incident, a Linfox employee was operating a tow motor to move a damaged Bushmaster using a chain.

However, a Thales worker was crushed between the two vehicles when the Bushmaster rolled forward while he was removing the tow chain and he was treated in hospital for a fractured leg and internal injuries.

Comcare’s investigation revealed failures in providing a safe system of work and instructing workers how to carry out the towing operation safely.

“The convictions and penalties emphasise the importance of acting on foreseeable risks and ensuring employees get all the information they need to do the job safely,” said Comcare Acting CEO Lynette MacLean.

Linfox pleaded guilty to a single charge of failing to ensure the health and safety of workers under the Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act, and the company was convicted and fined $200,000 in the Brisbane Magistrates Court in October 2018.

Thales pleaded not guilty to four charges of failing in its work health and safety duties, and the matter went to trial in May 2018.

Magistrate Judith Daley found Thales guilty of two charges in January, and in the Magistrates Court the company was convicted and fined $160,000.

Magistrate Daley found that the risks in the job were predictable and serious. Linfox failed to provide a safe system of work, including using a rigid tow coupling and wheel chocks, while Thales failed to provide adequate information and instruction to workers.

The Department of Defence contracts with Linfox for the warehousing and distribution of its supplies and equipment, and with Thales for the maintenance of the Bushmaster fleet.