John Holland & Thiess admit to OHS failings
Two of Australia’s biggest construction companies have entered in to a $225,000 enforceable undertaking after two concrete panels, each weighing 11.3t, fell from a contractor’s truck in October 2006.
No one was injured in the incident near the Eastlink tollway project at Ringwood. The tollway was being built by the companies which were in a joint venture, John Holland and Thiess subcontracted other companies to transport the concrete panels which were used as sound barriers.
Enforceable undertakings were a recommendation of the 2003 review of the Occupational Health and Safety Act by Chris Maxwell QC. They are an alternative to prosecution in some cases and can result in a quicker resolution of an issue, but with a direct safety outcome.
In lieu of prosecution by WorkSafe Victoria, John Holland Pty Ltd and Thiess Pty Ltd will spend up to $225,000 to research best-practice for contractor engagement and management.
WorkSafe Victoria’s Deputy Chief Executive, Ian Forsyth, said the research was a terrific outcome for workplace safety.
“The money we would have expected to have been imposed as a fine will go directly toward a safety outcome with a practical application. A significant part of the application of workplace health and safety is not just applying what the law says about basic obligations, but what is also ‘reasonably practicable’.”
Under the terms of the enforceable undertaking, the companies will engage a WorkSafe-approved independent health and safety experts and report back to WorkSafe on their findings within six months. Guidance materials will be developed as part of the process and be posted on the companies’ websites and distributed to industry stakeholders to promote awareness.
If the research project costs less than $225,000, the difference will be donated to Monash University’s Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research.
The research will look particularly at the selection, engagement, monitoring and management of specialist contractors which dominate major infrastructure projects.
The company transporting the concrete panels, Transdyer Management Pty Ltd (trading as Dyers Transport) was convicted and fined $30,000 in 2009 in relation to the incident.
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