Prosecutor urged to appeal against suspended sentences for guilty directors

Queensland Unions have called on the Work Health and Safety prosecutor to appeal the suspended prison sentences imposed yesterday on two company directors found guilty of industrial manslaughter.

Queensland Council of Unions General Secretary Michael Clifford said the suspension of the 10-month jail terms for the directors of a Rocklea auto recycling yard was manifestly inadequate.

“I don’t think this sentencing would act as a deterrent for operating an unsafe workplace,” said Mr Clifford.

A 58-year-old casual worker was crushed to death by a reversing forklift in the incident.

The Court awarded a $3 million penalty for the offence of industrial manslaughter which can attract up to a $10 million fine.

The two company directors, brothers aged in their 20s, will spend no time in jail and with their company going into insolvency, there is a strong likelihood no penalty will be paid.

The Court heard the company had public liability and business insurance but no WorkCover, and was behind in superannuation payments for workers.

The Court heard Brisbane Auto Recycling had no safety systems in place at the time of the incident.

“Workers and their unions fought long and hard for tougher workplace safety laws in Queensland and there was a comprehensive review into workplace health and safety recommending the introduction of industrial manslaughter laws,” said Mr Clifford.

“This is a real test of this nation-leading legislation. Compliance with work health and safety laws must be taken seriously, with serious consequences if ignored,” he said.

“If the Queensland Government is serious about reducing the number of workplace deaths due to negligence of employers, the decision should be appealed,” he said.

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