THE Department of Defence is expected to plead guilty to failing to comply with its health and safety duty after a RAAF corporal lost his leg in a maintenance operation gone wrong.

A piece of machinery weighing three tonnes severed the leg of Corporal Jim Dwyer when it fell from a truck and landed on him at the RAAF Base in Garbutt on August 16, 2017.

Barrister Simon Grant, instructed by Minter Ellis, appeared in the Townsville Magistrates Court on Monday via phone representing the department.

Mr Grant said the department would plead guilty.

Corporal Dwyer, a fitter armourer, was among a group tasked to remove the nylon belt from an aircraft arrestor unit, which is designed to stop planes during emergencies.

The group was using a tow motor to remove the belt from a three-tonne arrestor unit from a BAK-12 plane on a flat-back truck when the unit fell on his legs.

He was left fighting for life.

Corporal Jim Dwyer from 27 Squadron attended his last Anzac Day Dawn Service as a member of the Royal Australian Air Force at Anzac park. He lost his right leg in an incident at the RAAF Base Garbutt. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Corporal Jim Dwyer from 27 Squadron attended his last Anzac Day Dawn Service as a member of the Royal Australian Air Force at Anzac park. He lost his right leg in an incident at the RAAF Base Garbutt. Picture: Zak Simmonds

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions filed three federal worker health and safety charges against the department in 2019 after an investigation into the incident by Comcare.

Federal prosecutor Catherine Ferguson withdrew two charges of failing to comply with health and safety duty - category two.

The third charge was amended to allege the department failed to provide a safe system of work which required that "sufficiently visible end-of-tape markers were required from 50 feet from the clear end of the arrested tape to the arrested tapes installed in the BAK-12 units".

A further amendment adds that placement or removal of arrestor tape in BAK-12 units is to be undertaken when the units are anchored to a foundation.

Mr Grant said there were ongoing negotiations about the agreed statement of facts.

The case was adjourned to December.


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