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A case involving the death of a construction worker at the University of Canberra Hospital worksite serves as a timely reminder of how vigilent companies need to be when it comes to their workplace health and safety systems and procedures.

The worker was killed in August 2016, after an incident involving a mobile crane. The crane driver, who was moving an 11-tonne generator at the time of the incident, was charged in April 2018 with the worker’s manslaughter and faces a maximum jail term of 20 years under the Crimes Act 1900.

Reckless conduct charges have also been laid against the crane driver’s employer, subcontractor RAR Cranes, and its crane dogman, along with principal contractor Multiplex, its site manager, site supervisor and site safety officer. The corporations face fines of up to $3 million each under the Workplace Health and Safety Act 2011 and the individuals are looking at significant fines and potential jail time.

Multiplex’s Chief Executive and RAR Cranes’ Managing Director were also charged with failure to comply with a health and safety duty, and face maximum fines of $300,000 each.

WorkSafe ACT Commissioner Greg Jones said the evidence suggested there were significant and systemic failures on the site, with workers’ safety not taken into account.

“The risk of serious injury or death in what they were doing was obvious and readily apparent,” Mr Jones said. “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.”

The case shines a spotlight on the responsibilities employers carry when it comes to their workers, and highlights why workplace health and safety is not something to be taken lightly. Far from it. The case is a serious warning to employers to get their house in order.

Managing workplace health and safety risks

The construction industry is fraught with exposures.

Construction projects, whether for a new house, a multi-level office block or a large-scale infrastructure project are complex and unique – as are the risks that go with them.

Sometimes a single risk turning into a reality can deliver a knockout blow. In other cases, a combination of risks has the potential to sink a project or even the construction business itself. At worst, a risk coming to fruition can result in major injury or even fatality.

Managing workplace health and safety risks is critical to ensuring a workplace is safe, so it goes without saying that risk management is a must.

If the risk management process seems daunting, don’t despair. There are experts on hand to guide you.

Make sure you seek advice from a specialist who has lots of experience when it comes to the risks that may impact a business like yours. They’ll be able to help you identify and assess the risks relevant to your business, work out how best to control and manage those risks, and then put a plan in place to regularly monitor and review your plan.

At Emjay Insurance Brokers, our construction specialists have a wealth of experience assisting principals and contractors across the construction industry. From large-scale civil engineering projects, major plant upgrades, road and rail infrastructure, and above and below ground mining projects, to residential and commercial projects including housing estates, schools and hospitals, we have the expertise you need.

We can work with your business to do a comprehensive review of your workplace health and safety arrangements and tailor a workable program to fit your unique needs. Our solutions are aimed at reducing exposure to workplace hazards by implementing higher level controls.

Having the right cover

Even with an effective workplace health and safety management program in place, accidents may still happen. That’s why having the right insurance package in place is critical. Contract works, public liability, plant and equipment, professional indemnity, environmental liablity, latent defects, insurance bonds – the list goes on.

And let’s not forget legal defence cover, which provides protection in the event that legal actions like those in the case above arise.

Emjay Insurance Brokers has a deep understanding of what can go right – and wrong – when it comes to building and construction projects. Our goal is to help your business manage and balance risk against your insurance spend, so you’re covered how you need to be based on each project’s complexities.

If you’re business is part of the construction sector, speak to Emjay Insurance Brokers for all your risk management and insurance questions. We understand the workplace health and safety risks your business may face and have access to the leading insurance policies on the market. Contact us today to discuss your needs on (02) 9796 0400.


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