Electrocution – QLD’s First Industrial Manslaughter Charge

Brett Quinn was fatally electrocuted while ‘dogging’ for a crane when it came in close proximity to or contacted overhead powerlines during work on a crane rail system near Little Mulgrave in far north Queensland in July 2019.

MSF Sugar Pty Ltd has been charged with industrial manslaughter under the QLD Electrical Safety Act 2002 following the incident. The maximum penalty for industrial manslaughter in QLD is $10 million fine. This is the first prosecution for industrial manslaughter under the Electrical Safety Act since its introduction in 2017. Maximum gaol times in QLD are 20 years for industrial manslaughter.

Some states still don’t have industrial manslaughter legislation but Victoria has the largest fines and longest gaol times of $16.5M and 25 years respectively.

Aaron Guilfoyle, Qld’s independent work health and safety prosecutor, has also charged the company, under the Electrical Safety Act, with a Category 2 offence for the same incident with breaching their duty for electrical safety and exposing multiple workers to the risk of serious injury or death. The charge carries a maximum penalty of $1.5 million.

The charges against MSF Sugar were to be mentioned in the Cairns Magistrates Court on Tuesday, 7 September 2021. No other charges are expected to be laid over the incident.

The Electrical Trades Union has welcomed the charges and are hoping the industry changes as too many workers are being hurt.

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