John Holland is fined $130,000 in the first criminal prosecution over work safety

One of the two cars damaged when the pipe fell into peak hour traffic. Image: Comcare

A concrete drain pipe fell from a construction site, smashed through the window of car waiting at traffic lights and came to rest on the passenger seat.

Two cars were damaged but no-one was injured when the 40 kilogram pipe section fell 15 metres onto peak hour traffic in Adelaide.

Construction company John Holland was today fined $130,000 in the first criminal prosecution brought by federal regulator Comcare under the Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act which replaced the Occupational Health and Safety Act in 2012.

John Holland pleaded guilty to two charges of failing in its work health and safety duty during construction of the city’s South Road Superway.

The maximum penalty is $1.5 million for each offence.

The incident involved workers sub-contracted to the project’s Urban Superway joint venture.

Workers were installing a four-metre concrete drain pipe on the elevated road in June 2012 when a two-metre, 40 kilogram section broke off and fell.

The pipe hit two cars stopped at traffic lights on South Road in Angle Park.

In sentencing today, Magistrate Paul Foley found John Holland did not carry out a risk assessment for the job or ensure the work was done safely, exposing the drivers to the risk of serious injury or death.

“The very nature of what was being done gives rise to an identifiable risk of serious harm or worse to anyone below where the work was being undertaken,” the magistrate said.

Comcare CEO Jennifer Taylor welcomed the penalty.

“This case is a clear example of failing to meet work health and safety obligations,” she said. “The drivers whose cars were hit by the pipe were exposed to risks that were entirely preventable.”

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