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Prosecution Details

Offender Thomas William Lewis


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Charge Charge Number Offence Date Date Convicted Regulation Section Penalty Provision Penalty Imposed Date Sentenced
1 NG980/2016 22 October 2013 9th December 2016 20A(2)(c) $11,000.00 20th February 2017
Description of Breach(es)

Being an employee did not take reasonable care to avoid adversely affecting the safety or health of any other person through any act or omission at work, and by that contravention caused the death of another person, contrary to sections 20(1)(b) and 20A(2) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Background Details

Workplace and Employment

The Accused was an employee of a hay baling business which operated at 200 Wanerie Road, Narrogin (‘the workplace’).   The hay baling business produces small hay bales for the export market.

Both the Accused and another employee (‘the victim’) were full time employees of the hay baling business on 22 October 2013 and were both employed as a press operators/ forklift operators in the workplace.

The workplace consists of an office building, a large shed that contains hay processing lines, a gantry crane and storage sheds.

Both the accused and victim were working in the hay process line shed. This is approximately 60 metres x 100 metres and contains 2 hay presses. 

There are also substantial areas for storage of hay bales prior to processing. 


Large hay bales are brought in from the paddocks on the back of flatbed trucks and offloaded for storage prior to going through the hay presses. 

It was the role of the raw end forklift operator to load the feed tables to the hay presses with hay bales using a forklift with a hay baling attachment.  

This occurred in the end of the shed known as the “Raw Product End” of the factory.

The hay bales are then shredded, compacted and wrapped, ready to be stacked into shipping containers at the other end of the hay baling shed which was referred to as the “Finished Product End”.

A forklift with a front box attachment is used to push the waste hay off the floor throughout the shed. 

The waste hay was either returned to the stock pile or pushed into the waste bunker which was at the raw goods end of the shed behind hay press 2. 


On 22 October 2013 the accused was collecting bales of hay using the hay baling forklift and loading them on press feed tables at the raw end of the shed.

At approximately 9.00am the victim was operating his forklift with a box attachment to collect waste hay from the factory floor. 

The victim was driving at approximately walking pace down the side of Hay Press 1.

As he came around the end of Press 1, he beeped his horn and proceeded towards the waste bunker at the opposite corner of the factory behind Hay Press 2.

The accused had just loaded hay bales onto the feed table (teaser) of Hay Press 2. This meant the hay baling forks were approximately 1.7 metres high.

The accused reversed away from the table and then set off in a forward direction to collect more bales from the raw product storage area.

The accused drove forward with the hay baling forks raised approximately 1.5-1.7 metres above the ground. 

The height of the hay baling fork attachment also caused the accused’s view to be obscured. 

The accused travelled approximately 13 metres before impacting with the victim’s forklift side on.  One of the tines on the hay baling fork attachment pierced the victim’s torso who was seated in the seat of his forklift. 

Substantial damage was also occasioned to the victim’s forklift. 

Another fellow employee was working on Hay Press 1 when he heard the collision and ran to the aid of the victim.  The victim was trying to get off the forklift however the accused’s tine was still stuck in him.  He pulled the victim off the tine and assisted him to walk outside.

The victim was treated on site by St Johns Ambulance and then flown to Royal Perth Hospital.  The victim lost consciousness whilst enroute and went into cardiac arrest. 

Upon arrival at the Royal Perth Hospital the victim was immediately operated on.  He died at 9.00pm the same day from non-survivable abdominal injuries.  

The Mortuary Admission Form stated that the prong had penetrated about 10 to 15cm into the victim’s abdomen. 

The Post Mortem Report stated that the victim suffered severe abdominal injuries with laceration through the liver and injury to the portal vein.

Reasonable Care

The accused did not take reasonable care to avoid adversely affecting the health and safety of the victim and others by driving in a forward direction with the hay baling fork attachment raised more than 30cm above the ground. 

The accused’s failure to take reasonable care caused the death of the victim. 

It is foreseeable that driving in a forward direction with an inherently dangerous object such as the hay baling fork attachment raised more than 30cm from the ground could cause serious injury or death. 

The accused had been warned on at least 2 occasions by supervisors at the workplace about driving with the forks raised.

Approximately six weeks prior to the incident the accused was spoken to by the Production Manager, after an informal discussion with other employees revealed that the accused was driving with his forks raised. He was warned to drive with his forks lowered.

Approximately two weeks prior to the incident as a result of a complaint from another employee the accused was spoken to by his Supervisor, who advised him not to drive around with his forks in the air and keep them as low to the ground as possible.

Accused training history

The accused completed High Risk Work Licence (HRWL) training to operate a forklift on 18 August 2008 and was granted a Licence on 16 October 2008.

Part of the training and competency assessment included not driving with the forks raised more than 30cm.

The accused failure to take reasonable care and drive in a forward direction with the tines lowered caused the death of the victim.

CCTV Footage

CCTV footage was obtained from the workplace which shows the lead up to and the aftermath of the incident.

Between 08.55am – 08.57am the hay baling forklift is seen driving with the tines raised with no hay attached to the tines.

Between 08.57am – 08.58am the hay baling forklift is seen driving with the tines raised and no hay attached to the tines.

Between 08.58am – 09.00am the hay baling forklift is seen driving with hay attached to the tines of the forklift.

The camera was not pointed at the location where the incident occurred shortly after 9am.

At 09.01am the victim is seen to be walked through the shed with assistance of other employees in what appears to be an injured state.

CCTV footage captures the positioning of the forklifts after the incident occurred.

Outcome Summary

The Accused entered a guilty plea and was convicted on 9 December 2016.  The Magistrate fined the Accused an initial fine of $17,000.00 which was reduced for early plea and other mitigation to $11,000.00 and ordered costs of $1745.50 on 20 February 2017.

Court Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Narrogin
Costs $1745.50

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