John Holland fined in Comcare’s first WHS Act prosecution (Media release)
8 June 2016
Construction company John Holland has been convicted and fined $130,000 over an incident that endangered the lives of two Adelaide motorists.
This marks the first criminal prosecution brought by federal regulator Comcare under the Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act that replaced the Occupational Health and Safety Act in 2012.
At a hearing in Adelaide Magistrates Court in December 2015, John Holland pleaded guilty to two charges of failing in its work health and safety duty during construction of the city’s South Road Superway.
The incident involved workers sub-contracted to the project’s Urban Superway joint venture that included John Holland and two other companies.
Workers were installing a four-metre concrete drain pipe on the elevated road on 15 June 2012 when a two-metre, 40 kilogram section broke off and fell around 15 metres into evening peak hour traffic.
The pipe hit two cars stopped at traffic lights below on South Road in Angle Park, smashing the windscreen of one vehicle. No one was injured.
The workers used a fibre sling to manoeuvre the pipe into position. The pipe snapped because it was not properly supported.
In sentencing today, Magistrate Paul Foley found John Holland did not carry out a risk assessment for the job or ensure the work was done safely, exposing the drivers to the risk of serious injury or death.
“The very nature of what was being done gives rise to an identifiable risk of serious harm or worse to anyone below where the work was being undertaken,” Mr Foley said in his judgement.
Comcare Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Taylor welcomed the penalty.
“This case is a clear example of failing to meet work health and safety obligations,”
Ms Taylor said.
“The drivers whose cars were hit by the pipe were exposed to risks that were entirely preventable.”
Photographs available on request.
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