Post-driver fence post incident on cattle farm causes arm amputation

NT WorkSafe has laid reckless conduct charges against a Queensland-based cattle company and two of its officers following a serious crush injury to a worker’s arm.

In November 2022, two station hands were installing fence posts at a cattle station in the Katherine Region. One worker operated a tractor with an attached post-driver while the other worker manually positioned the fence posts.

The worker manually positioning the post had his arm crushed by the post-driver, resulting in amputation.

NT WorkSafe alleges that the post-driver had been modified, removing built-in safety features, and the tractor, which was over 10 years old, lacked appropriate labels or markings to differentiate the functions of the various levers, which were located together.

It is also alleged that both workers were not provided with adequate training or instruction, and a safe system of work was not implemented for the use of the tractor and post-driver.

NT WorkSafe has laid six charges in relation to the incident:

  • The cattle company faces two charges under Section 31 of the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011 (the Act) for reckless conduct.
  • One director of the company faces two charges under Section 31 of the Act for reckless conduct.
  • The manager of the station also faces two charges under Section 31 of the Act for reckless conduct.

If found guilty of all charges, the company faces a combined maximum penalty of $6 million, while the director and the manager each face a combined maximum penalty of $1.2 million or 5 years in prison, or both.

Alternative charges under Sections 32 and 33 of the Act for failing to comply with health and safety duties have also been laid against all three defendants.