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Charges laid in relation to ACT workplace fatality

In the first prosecution of its kind, charges have been laid under the Work Health & Safety Act 2011 (ACT) (WHS Act) against a company and a company officer (worker) in the ACT over an incident that resulted in the death of a worker in March 2012.

Charges of Reckless Conduct, a Category One offence, have been laid against the company and worker in relation to the maintenance of a concrete boom which was undertaken in NSW.

The worker was killed when he was struck by the boom which collapsed at a construction site in Kingston. The boom had recently undergone a full six year inspection.

The maximum penalty for a Category One offence is $3,000,000 for the company and $300,000 and/or five years imprisonment for the individual manager/supervisor. Alternative charges have also been laid for failing to comply with a health and safety duty and exposing an individual to a risk of death or serious injury or illness.

As tragic as the circumstances are for the worker, his family and friends, the charges against senior managers sends a strong warning that liability for safety matters does not rest with companies alone. This is in line with the WHS laws, which were designed to ensure that people at the highest level are personally accountable for what happens within the company.

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