skip navigation

Prosecution Details

Offender Nathan Thomas Pearce


Swipe to see more information
Charge Charge Number Offence Date Date Convicted Regulation Section Penalty Provision Penalty Imposed Date Sentenced
1 KH2348/2020 8 September 2017 2nd November 2020 20A(2)(c) $9,000.00 2nd November 2020
Description of Breach(es)

Being an employee failed to 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 serious harm to person.

Background Details


The accused was employed as the Workshop Co-ordinator for an industrial and mechanical services company (the company), working at Lot 502 Coolawanyah Road, Karratha (the Karratha Site). He had worked at the Karratha Site since 31 January 2015 and had been employed by the company since 8 February 2010.

The Karratha Site was predominantly used for plant maintenance and service. It was also used for ad hoc work cleaning pipes from offshore drill rig decommissioning to remove any naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) so that the drill pipes could be sent off site for use as scrap metal.

The Karratha Site was a relatively small site, approximately 4500 square metres, on level ground with a flooring of blue cracker dust gravel. The front gate of the Karratha Site provides the sole point of access to the site. 

The accused’s role was coordinating the yard work, including operating the forklift, coordinating items coming in and out of the site, preparing plant for offsite projects, and assisting with decontamination of NORM-impacted pipes.

The company hired an external truck company, to transport the pipes that had been cleaned from the Karratha site to the location where they would be scrapped.

The pipes would be loaded at the Karratha Site onto the flatbed trailer of a transport truck using a forklift truck. There were two forklifts on site, the one used at the time of the alleged offence was a 2008 16T Hyster Diesel Forklift (the forklift).

A copy of the company’s “Exclusion Zones – Loading/Unloading Tilt Try and HIAB Trucks” Safety Alert dated 4 July 2014 was mounted in the forklift at the time of the alleged offence.

The accused held a High Risk Work Licence to operate forklift trucks (LF Class) at the time of the incident.

The injured person, was a truck driver who was a subcontractor for the external truck company.

The accused had been inducted by the company including completing Modules 1-4 on 7 October 2016 which included a slide containing a diagram depicting the loading and unloading exclusion zones.

The accused had also been emailed a copy of the company’s Loading and Unloading Zones Guidance sheet on 30 March 2015. 

Prior to the incident the accused had been instructed by his company’s supervisors to tilt the mast of the forklift back to angle the tines, and to use chocks to prevent the drill pipes from rolling off the forklift tines. The accused had previously been observed using chocks and tilting the mast.

Prior to the incident, the accused had been instructed to ensure that exclusion zones were in place, that employees must make sure visitors sign in, and that the exclusion zone requirements were explained.

The 2008 Guidance Note: Working Safely with Forklifts, produced by the then Commission for Occupational Safety and Health of Western Australia outlines procedure to be undertaken when leaving a forklift at 3.4.5 including fully lowering the fork arms. At 3.4.8 the guide provides that the mast should be tilted back to safeguard against the load rolling off the fork arms and that all loads must be secured.

Events of 8 September 2017

On the morning of 8 September 2017 a Job Safety and Environmental Analysis (JSEA) was signed by the accused and another employee of the company. In relation to lifting of NORM impacted pipes it noted the hazard presented by suspended loads when unloading contaminated equipment.

On 8 September 2017 the injured person attended the Karratha Site at approximately 9:00am.

Present on the Karratha Site on the day were the accused, Nathan Thomas Pearce, and the other company employee. A third company employee was leaving the Karratha Site as the injured person’s truck pulled up.  A Franna Crane operator was also present on the Karratha Site but did not view the incident.

Upon arrival the injured person was told to reverse his truck along the fence line.

The injured person was required by the company policy to sign into the Visitor’s Log Book upon arrival to the Karratha, however he was not instructed to do so.

The accused did not instruct the injured person about exclusion zones as he had been instructed to do by his supervisors at the company prior to using the forklift.  There was an initial discussion between the accused and the injured person as to how to load the pipes onto the flatbed of the trailer of his truck.

The accused then went to get the forklift.

The injured person put up pipe bolsters (vertical struts in place to stop the pipes rolling from the trailer bed) and laid out wooden gluts onto the bed of the trailer, parallel to the front and rear of the trailer.   The first load moved by the accused with the forklift consisted of approximately five pipes which were loose (that is, they were not bundled together).

The first load was placed on top of the gluts on the trailer bed from the passenger side of the truck, with the bolsters remaining in place and the forklift lifting the load above the bolster height.

The accused had tilted the mast back, angling the tines upwards at the time the first load was being transported to the trailer bed.

The accused did not use chocks on any of the forklift loads despite having previously been told to do so by his supervisors at the company.  The accused used the forklift to transport another load of five or so pipes to complete the first layer of pipes.

Once the first single layer of pipes was complete on the trailer bed, the injured person strapped that layer down and put another set of gluts on top of the first layer while the accused went to get the next load of pipes.

The next layer was loaded onto the trailer bed by the accused in a further two trips with the forklift, and then the injured person strapped that layer down and placed another set of gluts on top of the pipes.

The last load of drill pipes was a load of approximately 12 pipes with 10 of the pipes bundled together. The bundle had a wire sling on one end and no bundling at the other end. This was the only pack that was bundled.

At approximately 10:00am the accused lifted the bundle with the forklift and drove it towards the trailer, stopping in a position where the pipes were parallel to the trailer bed.   The forklift mast was not tilted back so that the tines were at an angle to reduce the risk of drill pipe rolling off the end of the tines, but rather the tines were level (horizontal).

The accused left the cab of the forklift while the drill pipes were on the tines, which were elevated to a height between 50-100cm off the ground. The accused was not operating the forklift and was no longer in the driver’s seat of the forklift.

The injured person told the accused that he wanted the last layer to also be laid out flat on the trailer. He suggested that the bundle be put on gluts on the ground so that they could take the sling off the bundle.

The injured person started putting the straps on top of the second layer of pipes on the trailer bed for the new layer of pipes. He was initially in what is considered the exclusion zone by the company on the driver’s side of the truck and trailer, and then moved around to the exclusion zone on the passenger’s side as he was handling the straps. He expected the accused to reverse the forklift back to put the bundled pipes down on the gluts.

The accused then cut the mousing (the string maintaining the sling’s tension around the pipes) to loosen the sling. He then pulled the sling, walking with his back towards the truck.  At that time the injured person was standing in the exclusion zone on the passenger side of the truck between the pipes on the elevated tines of the forklift and the trailer bed.

When the accused pulled the sling away the pipes rolled off the forklift tines, hitting the injured person on the legs and shoulder. The injured person got under the trailer so that the wheels of the trailer would stop the pipes from rolling into him.

The injured person was conveyed to the Nickol Bay Hospital by the other company employee.

The forklift tines were lowered and a photograph of the area surrounding the forklift and truck was taken after the tines had been lowered.


The injured person was diagnosed with compartment syndrome in his left leg as a result of the crush injuries inflicted by the falling drill pipes.  An emergency fasciotomy was performed on the injured person on 8 September 2017 at the Nickol Bay Hospital in Karratha.  He was transferred to the Royal Perth Hospital on 9 September 2017 via the Royal Flying Doctors Service and ambulance.   He had further surgery to close the fasciotomy wound on 12 September 2017.  He remained in the Royal Perth Hospital until 13 September 2017.

After discharge the injured person remained in Perth to attend the plastic dressing clinic and he was seen by occupational therapy and physiotherapy.  He was reviewed on 18 September 2017, 22 September 2017, 27 September 2017, 6 October 2017, 12 October 2017, 11 November 2017 and the wound had healed by 19 November 2017, at which time he was to continue with physiotherapy.

In the absence of medical treatment the injury was likely to result in muscle ischaemia rhabdomyolysis requiring amputation of the injured person’s leg and renal failure endangering life.

Outcome Summary

The Accused entered an early plea of guilty and was convicted on 2 November 2020.  The Magistrate fined the accused $9,000 and ordered costs of $1489.00.

Court Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Karratha/Perth
Costs $1489.00

Search the records of all successful prosecutions taken by WorkSafe under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 and Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 since 1st January 2005. Searching and indexing of this database is limited to convictions for offences against the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 and Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 committed on or after 1 January 2005, when the statutory offence and penalty regimes were significantly amended.

Offences committed prior to 1 January 2005, while of limited comparative relevance, can be accessed via the following link.