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Maximum fine over John Holland workplace death

Media release

 - 26 Apr 2012

Comcare, the federal work health and safety regulator, has prosecuted John Holland Pty Ltd (John Holland) following the death of a worker in Western Australia.

The Federal Court imposed a fine of $242,000 on John Holland.

It’s the maximum civil penalty for a breach of the general duty of care requirements of the Commonwealth OHS Act by a body corporate.

Forty five year old Wayne Moore died after he stepped onto an unsecured sheet of grid mesh and fell to the floor below at the Mt Whaleback facility in the Pilbara.

This month, the Federal Court ruled that John Holland had breached federal work health and safety laws by failing to take all reasonably practicable steps to protect the health and safety at work of its workers.        

In addition to the prosecution, Comcare insisted on an enforceable undertaking from John Holland and the John Holland Group Pty Ltd. 

This undertaking requires the employers to implement better safety practices in their operations across the country.  They are also required to share these improvements with the construction industry, including through the Federal Safety Commissioner.

The undertaking can be viewed on the Current actions page on Comcare’s website.

Comcare Regulatory Services General Manager, Neil Quarmby, said that the court decision sends a message to employers about the serious consequences if they don’t meet their legal obligations to workers. 

“New work health and safety laws commenced on 1 January this year.  Had this incident occurred under those laws, the penalties would have been much higher.”

“Employers need to look more closely at near misses.  Comcare inspectors found there had been two incidents involving unsecured grid mesh at this workplace in the weeks leading up to the fatality.”

Mr Quarmby said that the safety improvements to be achieved through the undertaking will reduce the risk of this type of tragic incident happening again.

Media Contact:

Russ Street
0478 305 675

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Page last updated: 04 Nov 2013