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Sunday, November 29, 2020

Crane driver sentenced over worker’s death

The crane driver who was behind the wheel when a worker died at the University of Canberra Hospital construction site in August 2016, has been sentenced in the ACT Supreme Court today, Monday 20 April.

Mr Michael Watts pleaded guilty to a high-level breach of work health and safety legislation on 12 February 2020.

He was one of nine parties, including seven people and two companies, that were charged by WorkSafe ACT in April 2018 with multiple offences following the investigation into the death of a worker that occurred while a mobile crane at the site was moving a large generator.

Mr Watts was today sentenced by the Chief Justice of the ACT Supreme Court to 20 months imprisonment, reduced to 12 months with a 40% discount for an early plea and co-operation. The 12 months imprisonment sentence will be wholly suspended.

The maximum penalty for an individual under this Category One offence for failing to comply with a duty exposing persons to a risk of serious injury or death under WHS legislation is $300,000 and five years imprisonment, or both.

Outgoing ACT Work Safety Commissioner, Greg Jones, said the outcome is a strong reminder to the industry that workplace safety must be the number one priority and all efforts must be made to keep workers safe.

“Every supervisor, manager and director on any worksite must continually review and mitigate workplace risks. They also need to ensure their workers understand and follow all safety systems and procedures so they can do their job safely,” Mr Jones said.

“The consequences and penalties for failing to meet safety obligations and responsibilities are far too high to be complacent.”

He said WorkSafe ACT will continue its strong approach to compliance and enforcement to ensure all workplaces are doing the right thing to keep their workers safe from harm.

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