Company fined $250k
Site fatality due to relaxed safety: judge
A CAIRNS building company has been fined $250,000 after a contractor fell to his death at a Kanimbla building site.
An inadequate pallet barrier had been removed from a void area inside a Trout St home the day before Darren MacKenzie fell 3.2m and was fatally injured on April 1, 2016.
“There was no eyewitnesses and the exact sequence of events that led up to the incident are unknown,” acting Magistrate Terence Browne said as he sentenced Bennett Developments (FNQ) Pty Ltd.
“Darren was a son, father, a brother and a good member of this community.
“There is no doubt that the family will never have all questions answered about what happened on this day.
“There is no doubt the impact of that day will live on in their hearts and minds.”
The court heard the tragic death was preventable and re- flected the relaxed attitude of the family-run company.
“While there is certainly no suggestion of recklessness here, this matter provides a telling example of how those important responsibilities imposed by the Workplace Health and Safety Act 2011 must never be relaxed, however tight the margins or short the time frames might be,” Magistrate Browne said.
“Workers have the right to expect that their workplace is safe and their safety is always carried over expediency and any need to cut corners or costs.
“There is no doubt that in the important responsibilities expected upon them by laws, the company failed Darren and his family.”
Magistrate Browne said the work at the home was “clearly high risk” and the company’s original safety plan contained “largely generic clauses that did not relate specifically to the construction being undertaken”.
“This contributed to the incident because it reflected a general attitude of the company,” he said.
“Steps were taken to remove the risk but clearly they fell far short of the minimum standard.”
Bennett Developments pleaded guilty to failing to comply with the Workplace Health and Safety Act and was fined $250,000 plus $1596.15 in costs, all of which was referred to SPER. A conviction was not recorded.
“In this matter, the particular risk was and turned out to be catastrophic,” Magistrate Browne said.
Since then, Bennett Developments has implemented stronger control measures, including proper induction and pre-start checklists, as well as a new construction safety plan.