How can Jaxon Construction get away with this?

Published: 18 May 2018

Axedale Holdings Pty Ltd trading as Shaws Cartage Contractors, was fined in relation to the deaths of two labourers. The deaths were caused by falling concrete tilt-up panels at a Perth construction site.

Axedale were one of three parties charged and pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the safety of workers and that failure caused the death of Joseph McDermott and Gerard Bradley.

The two workers were crushed when unsecured panels fell from the cartage company’s specialised trailer.

On the 25th November 2015 a number of workers from the site entered an area on the footpath under the gantry which the workers used to make phone calls and have meal breaks. The area had not been set up as an exclusion zone to prevent entry, even though it was adjacent to to the trailer and the lifting of panels had already commenced.

The panels on the trailer each weighing in excess of three tonnes had not been individually restrained. As the 3rd panel was lifted by the crane the remaining unsecured panels on the trailer slipped and crashed into the area the workers were sitting.

Joseph McDermott and Gerard Bradley were struck by the panels and fataly injured, the other workers were unharmed.

WorkSafe have stated that they are not prosecuting Jaxon Construction because they did not do anything wrong.

Given that Jaxon Construction chose the subcontractors for the job, have control of the site, have a safety management system in place that all contractors must comply with, have a responsibility to plan and coordinate works, and ensure all parties on site adhere to all applicable legislative requirements, how can it be that they escape any responsibility in ensuring the safety of workers.

Unfortunately the lack of effort by WorkSafe (the regulator) to enforce compliance of these responsibilities by builders has enableed self regulation by builders and the result is the death of Joseph McDermott and Gerard Bradley?

As can be seen by recent political events regulators are being exposed as toothless in allowing big business to profit at the expense of the public and workers.

It is time the government stepped in and introduced industrial manslaughter laws as in the ACT where directors of Multiplex are facing charges for the death of a worker. It is also time they replace the leadership of WorkSafe with a proactive leadership that will enforce safety compliance by builders. We were promised the new Labor government would lead to better Workplace safety. The early signs are not good.

When builders are forced to provide a safe workplace by a genuinely tough cop on the beat and with the prospect of a gaol term over their heads if a worker dies on their job, safety standards will drastically improve and the carnage in our workplaces will stop.