Company fined $60k after apprentice injured by beam

NOON Auto Pty Ltd, trading as Loughlin Crane Hire and Loughlin Brothers, has been fined $60,000 in the Toowoomba Magistrates Court after a fourth-year apprentice was struck by a large beam and seriously injured.

The incident occurred at the Toowoomba-based transport company's depot, where the worker was welding one of three beams when he came into contact with a Franna Crane and one beam fell on top of another pinning him to the ground.

Head of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland Dr Simon Blackwood said the incident may have been prevented if the company had set aside an exclusion zone and implemented its safe work method statement.

"Unfortunately, the apprentice didn't hear the crane approaching because he was wearing hearing protection and a welding mask, while working at the end of the four tonne beam," Dr Blackwood said.

"The risk had been identified in the defendant's safe work method statement, but for some reason the control measures weren't implemented."

Magistrate Kay Ryan acknowledged the worker didn't hear instructions to clear the area as he was wearing protective gear for welding and was not actively involved in the work the crane driver was doing.

In making her decision, Magistrate Ryan took into account the seriousness of the breach; the significant injuries sustained by the injured worker (even though he recovered and returned to fulltime work with support from the company), the defendant had been operating for 26 years with no previous safety convictions; the company is active in the regional community contributing to a number of local organisations and show events; and the defendant entered an early guilty plea.

No conviction was recorded, with the transport company fined $60,000 and ordered to pay court costs of almost $1,100.