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Charges laid on crane driver

CRANES & LIFTING

After a detailed and lengthy investigation, a crane driver has been charged with manslaughter over the death of a construction worker in 2016.

62-year-old Herman Holtz was killed at the University of Canberra Public Hospital building site when a mobile crane attempted to lift an 11t generator during construction.

In April, Work Safe ACT Commissioner Greg Jones announced what he called “extensive and unprecedented” workplace health and safety charges, noting that evidence gathered, which included some 30,000 pages, 2000 photographs, and the use of 3D modelling, suggested “significant and systematic failure to take into account the safety of workers on the site.”

In a statement, he said: “It is alleged that a number of people made several very poor decisions, repeatedly over a period of time, in undertaking that lift.

“The risks that were apparent and available to not only the people in the supervisory or a management role, but particularly those on-site.”

And yet, despite the risks, the lift continued eventually resulting in the mobile crane exceeding its design capabilities, he said.

In addition to the manslaughter charge laid on the driver for his involvement in Holtz’s death, category one offences handed down for “reckless conduct” were also laid on the principal contractor Multiplex Constructions as well as RAR Cranes, the sub-contractor on the project. The latter’s managing director and former’s chief executive were handed category two offenses for failing to comply with health and safety standards.

The dogman assisting the crane driver at the time, along with the site’s safety officer and supervisor – all of whom were employed by Multiplex, were also accused of reckless conduct. The site manager was also handed a category two offence.

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