Multiple charges laid over death of Northern Territory worker in excavator accident

Five charges have been laid over the death of a 30-year-old worker who was crushed and killed by an excavator bucket in 2019 — including two charges against the company director and another charge against an employee.

NT Worksafe has alleged Titan Plant Hire, trading as Territory Plant Hire, as well as its director Jason Frank Madalena and excavator operator Kim Murray breached the work health and safety act for reckless conduct.

The 30-year-old man was killed at a worksite on Wishart Road in the outer Darwin suburb of Tivendale. The incident occurred on April 29, 2019, when a hired excavator was fitted with a large bucket that contained two smaller buckets and a ripper attachment that were not restrained. The man died after a bucket dislodged and struck him as he was helping to load the excavator.

The Titan Plant Hire company’s two charges relate to failing in its primary duty of care and failing to ensure its workplace was without risks to health and safety. NT Worksafe has alleged the company did not provide a workplace induction or properly check the qualifications of workers or visitors before allowing them to operate or load hired plant equipment.

Mr Madalena’s charges relate to failing to exercise due diligence.

The excavator operator, Mr Murray, was employed by a separate company and, while he was qualified and experienced in that role, NT Worksafe said he operated the machine when another worker was in the fall radius of the unrestrained buckets. It was alleged Mr Murray had no visibility of the other worker when the fatal accident occurred.

Titan Plant Hire faces maximum combined penalties of $6 million if found guilty.
Mr Madalena could end up with a $1.2 million penalty or five years in prison, or both.
Similarly, Mr Murray also faces five years in prison and a maximum penalty of $300,000, or both.

The worksite death came after a litany of fatalities and serious injuries on job sites in the NT, which prompted a review. In the wake of the review, the NT government pushed new industrial manslaughter laws into Parliament — which were passed in November 2019.

The laws were not retrospective so cannot be applied to this incident, but a spokesperson from NT Worksafe confirmed there have been no charges laid under industrial manslaughter laws since they passed.

The NT has the highest rate of workplace deaths per capita in the country.
The matter is listed for Darwin Local Court on June 23, 2021.

Source: ABC News

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