Quarry leg amputation hits court

TOM Hedley says a workplace incident at his Holloways Beach quarry in which an ­apprentice lost part of his leg wouldn't impact his involvement with the Trinity Inlet dredging project.

He is the owner of Northern Sands, which could face fines up to $200,000 after pleading guilty in the Cairns Magistrates Court yesterday to breaching health and safety obligations.

Max Dunkley, an apprentice, was standing in the "crush zone" while helping to jump-start a backhoe when it moved unexpectedly, crushing his leg on May 22 last year at the Holloways Beach worksite.

Workplace Health and Safety prosecutor Paul ­Waltham said a condition ­report revealed the backhoe was in a poor state of repair and a major safety risk.

Mr Dunkley had reached through a missing rear window and pushed the starter button.

WGC Lawyers director Doug McKinstry, for Northern Sands, said "this was not an ­obvious, identifiable, foreseeable risk" because the ­company didn't think Mr Dunkley would leave the backhoe's ­operating seat.

Mr Waltham criticised Northern Sands for "gentle victim blaming" rather than taking responsibility for equipment that was "highly dangerous and shouldn't have been in operation at all."

Tom Hedley (right) owner of Northern Sands, which pleaded pleaded guilty in the Cairns Magistrates Court yesterday to failing to comply with health and safety duty - category two.
Tom Hedley (right) owner of Northern Sands, which pleaded pleaded guilty in the Cairns Magistrates Court yesterday to failing to comply with health and safety duty - category two.

But Mr McKinstry said he was just highlighting mitigating factors and knowledge of the way his client managed risks.

"Northern Sands can do no more than plead guilty to these offences … it accepts without question that it could have eliminated or minimised the risk," Mr McKinstry said.

Mr Waltham said the penalty range should be between $175,000 and $200,000, while Mr McKinstry argued the range was between $75,000 and $125,000. The case for ­decision is on a date to be set.

Outside court Mr Hedley said any fines wouldn't impact the dredging project.

"All I can say it's just a part of doing business … I'm just sorry for Max," he said.

Mr Hedley said Mr Dunkley had indicated he would be returning to work next week.



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