August Newsletter

“Some interesting facts and reading for you re the ongoing responsibilities, even if there is NO money and a failed business.”…… sure are you about your work?

Director hit with $30,000 personal fine despite difficult financial position and loss of the business – 15 year old apprentice, on the job 3 weeks, fatally injured in unguarded plant

The defendant Hadfield was the managing director of AMS and was personally and directly involved on a day-to-day basis in its operations.

An incident occurred at a metal spinning facility on 4 May 2010 involving a 15 year old employee, Wade Braeckmans. Wade had commenced employment as a laborer only 3 weeks earlier. Wade was working on an automatic Spinning, Flow Turning and Necking-in Machine” (“the machine”). The machine was used to spin and form objects from flat discs of metal (also known as ‘blanks’).

The method of operation Wade had been taught meant that the start button was subject to a build-up of grease and would sometimes become stuck in a depressed position. When this occurred the machine could start a fresh cycle spontaneously.

As he was working on it a cycle commenced automatically and Wade’s hand was pinned in the machine which then began to spin. His arm was pulled into the machine, and his hand was severed above the wrist. His arm was degloved up to the elbow. He was only released from the machine by emergency workers who had to amputate his arm on site. He died in hospital a couple of days later.

At the time of the incident Wade was effectively working alone, out of site of the only other person on duty who performed administrative duties. The machine had never had a guard or interlock.

The failures alleged against the defendant included – FAILURE TO:

∎ fit the machine with a guard and interlock device;
∎ ensure the overhead computer control panel, in particular the green start button, was kept clean so that it did not become stuck;
∎ provide employees with a written work method statement or safe operating procedure in relation to the operation of the machine;
∎ provide employees with necessary training and instruction in relation to operating the machine; and
∎ provide supervision.
∎ permitting him to operate the machine in circumstances where the machine had a known capacity to commence a fresh production cycle in the absence of a command by the operator to do so.

Wade had no previous work experience of any kind. In particular, he had no training or experience in relation to the operation of any plant and equipment, including but not limited to the kind owned and/or operated by AMS, in particular the machine.

THE COURT said, amongst other matters:

►This was, objectively, a very serious offence.
►Not only was there a failure to provide adequate measures to eliminate what was an obvious risk of entanglement posed by the presence of an unguarded, dangerous machine in this case, a defect in the machine’s control system meant that, when the green start button became jammed with residue as an effect of the lubrication process and the machine was being operated in automatic mode, the machine had the capacity to begin operation spontaneously at any time (including whilst operators were reaching into it).

The risk was exacerbated by a system of work which actively exposed workers to the risk by requiring them to reach into the machine whilst it was in operation in order to lubricate blank discs.
►Moreover, the risk was one to which a young, inexperienced and, ultimately, unsupervised worker was exposed.
► In all the circumstances, the risk of entanglement was highly foreseeable. There were simple remedial measures available prior to the incident which, had they been implemented, would have abated the risk.
►The likelihood of catastrophic injury occurring was high.
► The defendant is entitled to mitigation of sentence because he did not have any prior record. ( There was also significant discussion about the Defendants difficult financial position including the forced sale of his home and business and his level of debt).

Fine – $30,000 plus costs
Inspector Estreich v Hadfield [2012] NSWIRComm 88 (17 August 2012)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Workplace Health & Safety Consultants

PO Box 678
Bribie Island QLD 4507
Tel: 07 3410 8482

Worplace Health & Safety Training and Audits

WH&S Services:

  • Safety Officers
  • Fire Safety Advisors
  • Risk Assessments
  • Seminars
  • Hazardous Material Management
  • Harmonisation Laws
  • Farming / Rural WH&S


HR Services:

  • HR Management
  • HR Audits
  • Staff/Team Assessments
  • Staff Surveys
  • Software Systems
  • Coaching Programs


Workplace Auditing Services:

  • Safety Management Systems (OHSMS AS4801)
  • Construction Audits
  • High risk safety work (SWMS) Audits
  • Traffic Management
  • Environmental Audits
  • Ergonomic Audits
  • HR Audits
  • QMS Audits


PBC&S Accept Credit Cards