Axedale Holdings Pty Ltd fined $160,000 over the death of two construction workers

Axedale Holdings Pty Ltd, trading as Shaw’s Cartage Contractors, was fined in relation to the deaths of two labourers. The deaths were caused by falling concrete tilt-up panels at a Perth construction site.

Axedale, among three parties charged, pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the safety of workers, and that failure causing the death of Joseph McDermott and Gerard Bradley.

The fine totalled $160,000 plus $2200 costs in the Perth Magistrates Court today. The two other parties have pleaded not guilty and the cases will be heard separately.

The two workers were crushed when unsecured panels fell from the cartage company’s specialised trailer.

On 25 November 2015 four workers from the site works entered a popular area for smoking breaks. The area had not been set up as an exclusion zone to prevent entry, even though it was adjacent to the trailer and the panel lifting had already begun.

Six panels on the trailer had not been individually restrained. Each panel weighed in excess of three tonnes. As the third panel was lifted by a crane, the remaining unsecured panels on the trailer slipped and crashed onto the area where the four workers were sitting.

Mr McDermott and Mr Bradley were struck and suffered fatal injuries. The other two workers were unharmed.

The WorkSafe Commissioner Ian Munns expressed his condolences and said the handling of tilt-up panels was well known in the construction tilt-up panel industry as being especially hazardous during loading, unloading and positioning.

“There are laws in place, a long standing code of practice and Australian Standards to ensure pre-cast panels are dealt with in a proper and safe manner,” Mr Munns said.

 “Axedale did not have proper systems in place to restrain every panel until the crane safely took the weight. This was a gross under-estimation of the terrible foreseeable risks when moving concrete panels.

 “Additionally Axedale had the correct ratchets and straps available but did not use them due to the lack of safety systems and procedures.

“These failures resulted in the tragic deaths of two young men and so I remind the tilt-up panel construction industry that safety laws and proper procedures must be strictly adhered to, to avoid the loss of lives, serious injuries and other catastrophes.”


Media contact: Janette Gerreyn (08) 6251 2363 or 0403 770 564.         Follow @WorkSafeWA on Twitter

Media release
18 May 2018

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