Resources Regulator welcomes appeals court ruling against inadequate conviction

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment’s Resources Regulator has welcomed the successful appeal against the inadequate conviction of a company, whose employee was left a quadriplegic in a workplace accident at a local mine.

In August 2016, the District Court of NSW found Silver City Drilling (NSW) Pty Ltd guilty of an offence under the state’s work health and safety laws and fined the company $112,000 but failed to award the Regulator its court costs.

As a result of the successful appeal, Silver City Drilling was fined $212,500 and must now pay the Regulator’s court costs.

The charges relate to a 2012 incident where a 26-year old employee suffered catastrophic and permanent injuries to his neck and spinal cord when he was knocked from a platform and struck by a pipe while operating a drill rig at the mine.

The man is now a quadriplegic requiring full-time care.

Silver City Drilling pleaded guilty to the charge that the employee’s health and safety was not reasonably and practically ensured. The maximum penalty for breaches of the Work Health and Safety Act is $1,500,000.

The original judge considered that an appropriate undiscounted penalty was $150,000, but reduced the penalty to a $112,000 fine because Silver City Drilling pleaded guilty.

The NSW Regulator’s Acting Chief Compliance Officer, Anthony Keon, said he welcomed the appeal court’s decision.

“Matters like this serve as a timely reminder for companies to ensure standards on their sites are compliant with the work health and safety legislation and they have appropriate systems in place to protect employees from hazards on site,” Mr Keon said.

“The Resources Regulator will robustly pursue breaches of work health and safety laws for the protection of employees - including appealing when the Regulator believes the sentence is inadequate or where court costs are not awarded.”