A $150,000 fine handed out to Multiplex over the death of Herman Holtz in 2016 is manifestly inadequate and an insult to workers and the families of people killed at work, says Zachary Smith, CFMEU ACT Assistant Branch Secretary.
“A worker’s life is worth so much more than this miniscule fine handed out by the court,” said Mr Smith.
The man was working at the Canberra University Hospital construction site in Bruce in and was fatally injured from an overloaded crane.
Mr Smith said it is shameful that a worker can be killed on the job and the company with ultimate responsibility for safety on the site can walk away with an insignificant fine.
“Multiplex failed in their obligation to maintain a safe site and Herman Holtz lost his life and his family has been robbed of their loved one.”
“There is something deeply wrong in our legal system when union officials and workers in the construction industry can be hit with bigger fines for fighting for safety than a company receives when a worker is killed.”
“The company could have faced a fine of up to $1.5 million, but instead this international conglomerate will walk away after paying what is effectively pocket change for them.”
“This outcome reinforces the need in Australia for nationally consistent industrial manslaughter laws that properly hold companies responsible for the deaths of workers to account.”
“Construction workers deserve to have their lives valued and respected by the courts and by the laws they administer.”
In August this year, the ACT Legislative Assembly passed legislation to establish industrial manslaughter as an offence under the work health and safety laws. The new offence carries an imprisonment penalty of up to 20 years for individuals and $16.5 million for corporations who cause the death of a worker through the continued disregard of safe work practices and breaches of work safety obligations.
Industrial Relations and Workplace Safety Minister Mick Gentleman said the new offence will provide a strong deterrent against unsafe work practices.
“Every workplace fatality is a preventable tragedy that devastates families, friends, co-workers and the wider community,” Minister Gentleman said.
“Everyone has the right to return home safely and employers have an important role to play in this. Workplace safety is a right that must be protected at all costs.”
“These laws will provide more avenues to address poor workplace safety practices and systemic non-compliance.
Industrial manslaughter offence provisions have been transferred from the Crimes Act 1900 into the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.