Maximum penalty for John Holland over worker’s death

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The Federal Court has fined John Holland $242,000 after a worker fell to their death at BHP Billiton’s Mt Whaleback mine in 2009.

The worker fell 10 metres after stepping on an unsecured sheet of grid mesh.

The court ruled John Holland had failed to take all reasonable steps to protect the health and safety of its workers.

The $242,000 fine was the maximum penalty for a company under the Commonwealth OHS Act.

In sentencing Comcare, the federal safety regulator that prosecuted John Holland, also insisted Holland implement better safety practices in their operations across Australia.

The improvements are required to be shared with the construction industry.

In a statement yesterday Comcare regulatory services general manager Neil Quarmby said the ruling sent a clear message to companies about safety.

“Employers need to look more closely at near misses," he said.

"Comcare inspectors found there had been two incidents involving unsecured grid mesh at this workplace in the weeks leading up to the fatality."

Quarmby said the fine for John Holland would have been much higher if the accident had happened after new safety laws commenced this year.

"Had this incident occurred under those laws, the penalties would have been much higher," he said.

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