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Prosecution Details

Defendant Mindibungu Aboriginal Corporation (ACN)
Section 19(1) and 19(7)
Offence Date Wednesday, 24 November 2004
Description of Breach(es)

Being an employer, failed so far as was practicable to provide and maintain a working environment in which its employees were not exposed to hazards in contravention of Section 19(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 and by that contravention caused the death of an employee, contrary to Section 19(7) of the Act.

Background Details

This charge arises from an accident which occurred on 24 November 2004, which subsequently caused the death of a young man. The accident occurred at the Billiluna Community, which is a remote community situated 200 kilometres from Halls Creek in the Kimberley area of Western Australia.

The Accused was originally incorporated pursuant to the Aboriginal Corporations and Associations Act (1976) (Cth).

On 24 November 2004, the deceased, a 17 year old man, was working for the Accused in a mechanical workshop at the Billiluna Community as a workshop assistant trainee. The deceased was employed by the Accused with part of his wages being funded under the Community Development Employment Projects Scheme ("CDEP").

The Accused employed a mechanic/essential services officer who was working in the workshop at the time of the accident. He was in charge of the workshop.

On 24 November 2004 the deceased and another assistant, were assisting with the repair and reinflation of a large tyre for a back hoe. The deceased was inflating a tyre tube positioned inside the large tyre which was lying on its side on the workshop floor. The deceased was sitting on the tyre when the tube burst from within the rim, catapulting him approximately 8 metres into the air. The deceased struck the roof of the workshop damaging the roof and fell to the floor. The deceased was transported by the Royal Flying Doctor Service to Broome Regional Hospital and subsequently to Royal Perth Hospital but passed away at 8 pm on 28 November 2005.

Accidents can occur during the fitting of tyres when too much pressure is applied before the tyre bead is seated correctly against both sides of the rim.

A safe working procedure for inflating a pneumatic tyre tube would involve using short blasts of air, allowing time for the bead to seat on the rim. A non-flammable lubricant should also be applied to the bead. If the bead has not been seated by the time the recommended pressure is reached the tyre should be deflated, repositioned on the rim, relubricated and then reinflated. It is also recommended that a safety cage, a suitable safety barrier, or a restraining device should be used during tyre inflation.

In the course of inflating the tyre tube there was some difficulty in getting the bead of the tyre to sit on the tyre trim. The tyre tube was not lubricated prior to inflation. The tyre continued to be inflated for approximately 45 minutes. There was no safety cage available at the workshop. Further, there was no safe working procedure for inflating tyres at the workshop. No proper instruction and supervision was provided during reinflation of the tyre trim assembly at the workplace. Since this accident the Accused has purchased a tyre safety cage.

Outcome Summary Plead Guilty
Conviction Date 16 Jun 2008
Court Kununurra Magistrates Court
Fine $26,000
Costs $4,197.20
Charge Number KR4/08