$60,000 penalty issued following asbestos safety incident

Released 07/11/2017

Access Canberra has today welcomed a decision recorded by the Industrial Court against Samarkos Earthmoving Pty Ltd and a financial penalty of $60,000 following a safety incident in 2015.

Samarkos Earthmoving Pty Ltd was the principal contractor responsible for the private demolition of a Mr Fluffy house in Darke Street Torrens on 20 August 2015.

The demolition resulted in an uncontrolled release of dust due to insufficient water suppression which impacted workers, including a WorkSafe ACT inspector.  This was compounded through ineffective communication on the site between workers and machinery operators.

Following an investigation of the incident by Access Canberra, the Director of Public Prosecutions commenced proceedings in the Industrial Court on 21 July 2017, alleging that Samarkos Earthmoving Pty Ltd failed to comply with a health and safety duty it owed to persons present at the site, in breach of section 33 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2010.

On Monday, 6 November 2017, Samarkos Earthmoving Pty Ltd entered a plea of guilty to a breach of section 33, admitting that it failed to:

  • ensure that there were two workers maintaining water suppression devices before the demolition began; and
  • implement effective methods of communication between excavator operators and ground workers.

Today (Tuesday 7 November 2017) the Industrial Court imposed a financial penalty of $80,000, which was reduced to $60,000 taking into consideration the early guilty plea, on Samarkos Earthmoving Pty Ltd for its breach of the Act.

Access Canberra A/g Deputy Director-General David Snowden welcomed the ruling.

“This outcome sends a clear message to the construction sector that dangerous and unsafe work practices are not accepted,” he said.

“It is the second successful court outcome within  a month following an investigation by Access Canberra.

“Access Canberra and WorkSafe ACT continue to ensure safety in our community and construction sector through engagement, education and enforcement where appropriate and we will continue this concerted focus.”

- Statement ends -

Section: Access Canberra | Media Releases

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