Construction company fined 500K after worker fatality

Published: 16 Apr 2021

Released by: Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation

A construction company has been fined half a million dollars after a worker was fatally injured by a falling headstock whilst working on the Barangaroo Ferry Hub project.

The court heard the fatality was caused by headstocks, consisting of large upright metal circular tubes welded together with a beam, landing on the worker.

McConnell Dowell Constructors (Aust) Pty Ltd was found guilty of a breach of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 following a hearing in the NSW District Court.

Minister for Better Regulation, Kevin Anderson said this case sends a strong message about the need for safety in the construction industry.

“Every workplace death is one too many and has an irreversible impact on families, workmates, and the community at large,” Mr Anderson said.

“While the court noted the company had no prior convictions in New South Wales, it shows there’s just no room for sloppy behaviour or complacency when it comes to safety and companies must be vigilant each and every day.

“Every company has an obligation to do everything they can to keep their workers safe, so that they can return home to their loved ones at the end of the working day.”

The NSW District Court found the risk of the headstocks falling over on the barge was foreseeable, and that there was no significant burden or cost involved in taking the appropriate measures.

“There were a series of steps the company could have taken to reduce risk, including conducting a risk assessment, securing the headstocks to the deck or stopping work on the barge while the headstocks were unrestrained,” Mr Anderson said.

“All of those things could have made a difference in this matter.”

McConnell Dowell Constructors were convicted and fined $500,000 and ordered to pay the prosecutor’s costs. They have the option to appeal the decision.

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