NSCA Foundation

Crane operator pleads guilty to 2016 worksite death

Wednesday, 01 April, 2020

Crane operator pleads guilty to 2016 worksite death

Following the death of a worker in August 2016 at the University of Canberra Hospital site during its construction, seven persons and two companies were charged in April 2018. The nine parties were charged following a complex investigation into the incident, which occurred when a mobile crane at the site was moving a large generator. Michael Watts, the driver of the crane, has pleaded guilty in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Supreme Court to a Category One offence under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. Watts was originally charged with manslaughter under the Crimes Act 1900; however, he pleaded guilty for reckless conduct and failing to comply with a duty exposing persons to a serious risk of injury or death, a Category One offence under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. Watts will be sentenced on 16 April 2020 in the ACT Supreme Court; the maximum penalty for such an offence is a $300,000 fine and five years’ imprisonment, or both.

“This significant prosecution sends a very strong message to the industry that safety must be the number one priority and all efforts must be made to keep workers safe,” ACT Work Safety Commissioner Greg Jones said. “The consequences and penalties for failing to meet safety obligations and responsibilities are very substantial. All workers, employers, their managers and directors, both on site and in the office, must ensure that safety is their number one priority.” WorkSafe ACT plans to continue its approach to compliance and enforcement, and will pursue the eight remaining charges relating to the University of Canberra Hospital construction fatality. “I urge every supervisor, manager and director on any worksite to continually review the risks at their workplaces and ensure that their safety systems and procedures mitigate the risks to protect their workers. Supervisors must ensure that their workers understand the safety systems and procedures and ensure that they are being followed at all times,” Jones said.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Oleg Totskyi

NSCA Foundation is a member based, non-profit organisation working together with members to improve workplace health and safety throughout Australia. For more information and membership details click here
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