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Company fined $170,000 over Brisbane fatality (Media release)

11 May 2016

A fatal accident at Brisbane’s Airport Link project has cost construction company John Holland a $170,000 fine for breaching Commonwealth work health and safety laws.

The penalty was handed down in the Federal Court in Brisbane today following a case brought by federal work health and safety regulator Comcare.

Justice Andrew Greenwood found John Holland Pty Ltd breached the then Commonwealth Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991, since replaced by the Work Health and Safety Act that came into effect in 2012.

Mechanical fitter Samuel Beveridge was working on smoke duct formwork in the Airport Link tunnel on 29 September 2011 when a section he was cutting collapsed, causing severe crush injuries. He died in hospital two days later.

Mr Beveridge had been disassembling the smoke duct formwork that was used as part of the tunnel construction. The formwork was used to pour suspended concrete slabs which ultimately formed the roof of the tunnel.

In an Agreed Statement of Facts tendered to the court, John Holland admitted it failed to provide Mr Beveridge with training on risk or control measures for the work, or a safe system of work for the cutting of the formwork.

Comcare Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Taylor said the penalty sent a strong message that employers need to carry out comprehensive assessments of all work health and safety risks.

“In this case there was a clear failure to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure this work was carried out safely,” Ms Taylor said.

“Detailed risk assessments are fundamental requirements in identifying hazards and ensuring the health and safety of workers, and that did not happen here.”

John Holland was fined $110,000 in the Federal Court in April 2015 over a separate accident during the Airport Link construction. A worker suffered head injuries when an unsecured metal bridge fell on him in December 2011.

Today’s judgement was the final penalty handed down under the Commonwealth OHS Act, which carried a maximum fine of $242,000. The WHS Act contains criminal penalties that are significantly tougher, including jail terms and fines of up to $3 million.

Media contact:
0478 305 675

Page last reviewed: 15 December 2019
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Date printed 29 Jun 2022