Death on UC worksite leads to manslaughter charges

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CHARGES including manslaughter have been laid after Herman Holtz died on the University of Canberra Hospital construction site in Bruce on August 4, 2016.

Mr Holtz, 62, was a worker at the site, which was led by Multiplex Constructions Pty Ltd and the subcontractor was RAR Cranes Pty Ltd.

At the time of the incident a crane was being used to move an 11 tonne generator. 

Work Safety commissioner Greg Jones says the extensive investigation into this incident gathered evidence that suggests significant and systemic failure to take into account the safety of the workers on the site. 

“It is alleged that a number of people made several very poor decisions, repeatedly over a period of time, in undertaking that lift,” he says. 

“The evidence gathered under this investigation suggests that the risk of serious injury or death in what they were doing was obvious and readily apparent.

“However, despite the risks, they continued in their task which resulted in the mobile crane exceeding its design capabilities to such a degree that it overturned with tragic consequences.

“Based on the evidence obtained in relation to the circumstances surrounding this incident that resulted in the death of a person, a strong regulatory response is required and has been provided.” 

Mr Jones says WorkSafe ACT, in close co-operation with ACT Policing, conducted an extensive and detailed investigation into the incident.

Based on the evidence obtained under this investigation, charges relating to the following alleged offences have been laid: 

Charge* Act Position Company
Manslaughter Crimes Act (1900) Crane Driver RAR Cranes Pty Ltd
Category 1** see bottom of page Work Health and Safety Act (2011) Principal Contractor Multiplex Constructions Pty Ltd
Category 1 Work Health and Safety Act (2011) Sub-Contractor RAR Cranes Pty Ltd
Category 1 Work Health and Safety Act (2011) Crane Dogman RAR Cranes Pty Ltd
Category 2** Work Health and Safety Act (2011) Site Manager Multiplex Constructions Pty Ltd
Category 1 Work Health and Safety Act (2011) Site Supervisor Multiplex Constructions Pty Ltd
Category 1 Work Health and Safety Act (2011) Site Safety Officer Multiplex Constructions Pty Ltd
Category 2 Work Health and Safety Act (2011) Chief Executive Officer Multiplex Constructions Pty Ltd
Category 2 Work Health and Safety Act (2011) Managing Director RAR Cranes Pty Ltd

 

Mr Jones says the range of charges reflected the shared responsibilities under the Work Health and Safety Act, from the boardroom to the workers conducting the activity.

“All workers, employers, their directors and managers, both on site and in the office, must ensure that safety is the number one priority,” he says.

“A failure to have systems in place to protect the safety of workers can result in a catastrophic injury and loss of life.

“I urge every employer and manager on any worksite in the ACT and beyond to continually review their attitude to safety and to check systems and procedures to ensure every reasonable and practical measure is in place to protect the safety of workers.

“Not only are good safety systems critical, activity must be carefully planned and all workers informed to make sure the safety systems are properly implemented.”

Mr Jones says the matter is currently before the courts and therefore no further comments will be made at this time.

* Category 1: (reckless conduct. Penalty: individual $300,000 and/or five years imprisonment; duty holder $600,000 and/or five years imprisonment; corporation $3 million)

* Category 2: (failure to comply with a health and safety duty. Penalty: individual $150,000; duty holder $300,000; corporation $1.5 million). 

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