Burdekin region of Australia

North Queenslander fined $65,000 over worker death linked to heat stress

An Australian watermelon grower has been fined $65,000 in connection to the death of a backpacker who collapsed with heat stress while picking fruit in the Burdekin region. The 27-year-old Belgian backpacker died in November 2017, the day after he collapsed on a watermelon farm near Ayr.

Bradford Clark Rosten, who had employed Caramin through his business Pumpkin Pickers, had pleaded guilty in the Townsville Magistrates Court to breaching Queensland's Work Health and Safety Act 2011 by failing to comply with his health and safety obligations. He was fined $65,000 plus court costs of almost $1,600, and no conviction was recorded.

The court heard Rosten employed about 200 workers each year and the majority were backpackers, who would be trained by the defendant and other supervisors on how to pick fruit on farms in the Burdekin district, south of Townsville.

According to an article on abc.net.au¸ magistrate Ross Mack found Rosten had become complacent and the information provided to his workers, including the team members, was insufficient to identify heat-related illness, noting the deceased had displayed obvious signs on the day of his collapse.


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