Importer and directors fined for shipping container crash death
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February 2, 2021
IMPORTER AND DIRECTORS FINED FOR SHIPPING CONTAINER CRASH DEATH
Australian consignee found liable for shipping container crash death caused by improper load restraint in container from China, setting a legal precedent in Australia.
Australian importer, Futurewood Pty Ltd, and its two directors, were fined for breaching the chain of responsibility on load restraint over a truck crash which killed a motorist.
In June 2012, a 33-year-old father was killed when a truck and its loaded container rolled on top of his Toyota Camry, as he waited at traffic lights on the opposite side of the road, squashing his car flat, with him inside it.
19 tonnes of building products had not been properly restrained when loaded inside the container in China. The load shifted as the truck rounded a sweeping corner onto the Cumberland Highway, in Sydney’s southwest.
The cargo of composite boards was wrapped in plastic, inside a steel frame. Neither the boards nor the frame were adequately strapped down. There was no blocking between the load and the container doors, and there was insufficient chocking and dunnage. This is what allowed the load to shift.
The case highlights a huge potential issue for importers. You can’t simply assume that the goods inside have been properly restrained at their loading point overseas. Or that the responsibility for doing so lies solely with your supplier.
This prosecution sends a clear message that importers are obliged under Australian transport law. Make sure your imported goods can travel safely on our roads. Any failure to do so breaches the chain of responsibility, and the penalties for this are high.
As if the knowledge that you’re deemed responsible for another person’s death, wasn’t penalty enough, the maximum penalties our courts can hand down, for risking someone’s life under WHS law, include five years imprisonment and fines of up to $600,000 for an individual conducting a business; and a $3 million fine for a company.
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