Airservices fined over fatal Darwin crash (Media release)
22 April 2016
Airservices Australia has been fined $160,000 for breaching federal work health and safety laws over a fatal crash involving an airport firefighting truck.
Justice Richard White handed down the penalty in the Federal Court in Darwin today, following proceedings brought by work health and safety regulator Comcare.
Justice White found Airservices breached the federal Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991 by failing to take all reasonably practicable steps to protect the health and safety of its workers and members of the public.
The 30-tonne fire truck, with emergency lights and sirens on, went through a red light in suburban Darwin on 7 August 2011 and hit a Mitsubishi Triton, killing architects Greg McNamara, Lena Yali and Kevin Taylor. The three firefighters in the truck were not injured.
Justice White found Airservices failed to train its staff appropriately in driving under emergency conditions on a public road, and failed to conduct an appropriate risk assessment for such a scenario.
The truck was responding to a request from the NT Fire and Rescue Service to help with a large blaze at the Wyuna Cold Stores facility.
Airservices admitted it overlooked the risks associated with driving under emergency conditions on public roads, particularly in relation to breaching red lights.
Comcare Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Taylor acknowledged Airservices’ significant efforts to improve its work health and safety systems since the accident.
“However all of the necessary measures did not exist at the time of the collision,” Ms Taylor said.
“Penalties handed down by courts in such cases are intended as strong deterrents, potentially saving lives. We will always take action against employers and workers who fail to comply with their work health and safety duties.”
The maximum penalty available was $242,000. The OHS Act was replaced in 2012 by the Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act which contains criminal penalties including fines of up to $3 million.
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