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Company, rigger charged over construction site deaths

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BT Coleraine

A rigger has been fined $4000 (and ordered to pay $10,000 in costs) over an incident in which two construction workers were crushed by a tilt-up panel in the city in 2015.

Benjamin Paul Botica pleaded guilty to failing to take reasonable care to avoid adversely affecting the safety or health of others, and was fined in the Perth Magistrates Court on Friday.

In November 2015, four workers from a Perth construction site were standing in an area used for breaks. The area had not been set up as an exclusion zone even though it was next to a truck trailer carrying the panels and the panels were in the process of being lifted.

Six panels weighing more than three tonnes each were on the trailer, with three panels on each side of the trailer’s A-frame.

The camber of the road meant that the panels closest to the kerb were lower than those on the other side, but the panels on the high side were removed from the trailer first.

When the third of these panels was unloaded, two of the panels on the other side of the trailer fell to the ground, one crushing two of the labourers who were sitting on concrete strip footings on the footpath.

Gerry Bradley, 29 from Coleraine, had been working at the Bennett Street site in East Perth, Australia, for just eight days when he was killed alongside pal Joe McDermott, 24, from Omagh, Tyrone.

The court heard that the Job Hazard Analysis for the task nominated Mr Botica as the person responsible for ensuring control measures were in place to manage panel erection.

Mr Botica was aware the panels would be delivered adjacent to the footpath and that the road had a camber.

The court found that Mr Botica did not ensure that the footpath was set up as an exclusion zone, and did not ensure that the order of removing the panels from the trailer was such that the weight distribution of the panels did not compromise the stability of the load.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Darren Kavanagh said the case should provide a reminder that safety on a building site is not the sole responsibility of the employer.

“The OSH legislation places obligations on workers for their own safety and that of others in the vicinity,” Mr Kavanagh said.

“The result of reasonable care not being taken in this case was absolutely tragic, and should serve as a reminder that everyone in a workplace needs to keep safety and health as their top priority.”

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