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Prosecution Details

Offender Benjamin Paul Botica


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Charge Charge Number Offence Date Date Convicted Regulation Section Penalty Provision Penalty Imposed Date Sentenced
1 PE47296/2017 25 November 2015 11th March 2019 20A(3)(c) $4,000.00 15th March 2019
Description of Breach(es)

Being an employee, failed to take reasonable care to avoid adversely affecting the safety or health of any other person through any act or omission at work, contrary to sections 20(1)(b) and 20A(3) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Background Details

The Workplace

The offence occurred on 25 November 2015 at a construction site located at 67 Bennett Street in East Perth. An 11 story residential apartment complex was being constructed there.

The structure consisted of tilt-up type concrete wall panels cast into suspended slabs with the addition of architecturally designed concrete wall panels incorporated into the building’s façades.

Jaxon Pty Ltd (Jaxon) was the main contractor for the construction site. Jaxon had engaged the following relevant entities:

  1. Delta Corporation Limited (Delta) to manufacture and supply the architecturally designed concrete wall panels;
  2. ABC Crane Hire Pty Ltd (ABC Cranes) to install all of the precast concrete wall panels at the site;
  3. Perth Drywall Pty Ltd (Perth Drywall) to supply and install ceiling and wall lining at the site; and
  4. WARP Pty Ltd (WARP) to provide traffic management at the site.

Delta had engaged Axedale Holdings Pty Ltd T/A Shaw’s Cartage Contractors (Shaws) to transport the concrete panels from the Delta manufacturing yard to the site.

By 25 November 2015, the main structure of the building had been constructed and the non-load bearing architecturally designed concrete wall panels were being incorporated into the façade of the eastern elevation of the building, above Bennett Street.

The City of Perth had issued a series of obstruction permits for the footpath and the two lanes of Bennett Street, in front of the site, for use as a delivery area associated with the construction works.

WARP had in place a Traffic Management Plan, under which it was responsible for controlling pedestrians and traffic outside of the construction site. The Traffic Management Plan did not outline controls for within the construction site itself or delivery area.

During construction of the first floor of the building, ABC Cranes had erected a partially enclosed gantry above the footpath in the delivery area.

The gantry consisted of steel columns and purlins with the columns cast into two concrete strip footings located either side of the footpath and spanning the majority of the width of the site.   The gantry protected the footpath area from falling objects from the eastern elevation of the building in addition to supporting a series of transportable site offices and a small laydown area.

Situated at either end of the gantry were the two entrances to the site being the main gate located at the southern end of the gantry and a larger sliding door entrance located at the northern end.

The delivery area, as well as the use of the site’s tower crane, were controlled by a deliveries board situated inside the main entrance gate. The deliveries board was controlled by Jaxon’s Site Management staff.

The Day of the Accident

At approximately 8:30am on Wednesday 25 November 2015, a truck driver arrived at the Bennett Street site and parked his truck and purpose built panel carrying trailer near the corner of Goderich Street and Bennett Street as another truck was currently being unloaded. The trailer load consisted of six concrete panels, each weighing approximately 3.19 tonnes, positioned with three panels either side of the trailer’s A-frame. The truck driver attended the site to notify of his arrival and of his vehicle’s location.

The panels had load restraint chains over them, running from anchor points located in the panel wells on either side of the trailer, over the top of the pre-loaded panels and through the handrails of the tailer’s overhead walkway.

On the previous day, Tuesday 24 November 2015, Delta had taken ten photographs of the load prior to the truck and trailer leaving Delta’s manufacturing yard. These photographs captured the load restraint applied along with the condition of the panels as part of a quality control process.

On Wednesday 25 November 2015, and prior to the truck arriving on site at approximately 8:30am, the Accused, who was the on-site Leading Hand Advanced Rigger for ABC Cranes, and another employee, a Basic Rigger, (Basic Rigger 1) had been setting up their equipment on the 3rd floor of the eastern elevation of the building, while awaiting the first delivery of panels and for another ABC Crane Hire Basic Rigger (Basic Rigger / Dogger)  to attend the site with the required panel lifting assembly to be connected to the site’s tower crane.

The Accused met with Jaxon Site Manager and received a panel sequence document detailing the order in which the six panels were to be unloaded from the trailer. The sequence was for the three PB37 numbered panels to be lifted first, followed by the three PB38 numbered panels.

Following the truck’s arrival on site, the Accused attended the delivery truck and checked the panels.

The panels were positioned on the trailer with the three PB37 panels (to be unloaded first) on one side of the delivery trailer and the three PB38 panels (to be unloaded second) on the other side of the trailer.

The Accused then instructed Basic Rigger / Dogger to direct the truck into the delivery area and be the dogman for the truck.

The truck driver then drove the truck onto Bennett Street where the flagged bunting, demarcating the delivery area was opened to allow access.

The road camber at the delivery area became more aggressive closer to the gutter of the road.

After repositioning the truck a little further from the footpath, where the road camber was less severe, the truck driver removed the chains by un-tensioning the binders and unhooking the chains on the passenger side of the trailer, unhooking the chains on the driver’s side and then pulling the chains through the walkway and over the panels from the passenger side.

Each panel had a texta mark detailing the panel number and panel weight, which the dogger, confirmed with the Accused, via radio, to ensure that the correct panel was being lifted for each individual lift.

Between panel lifts, the dogger would sit on the concrete strip footings under the gantry while awaiting the lifting assembly to be lowered down following the installation of the previously lifted panel.

The dogger reported that between the second and third lift, no other persons were underneath the gantry.

At approximately 11am, upon instruction from the Accused, the dogger alerted traffic management staff of the commencement of the next lift while accessing the panel trailer’s walkway and attaching the lifting assembly to the last PB37 panel to be lifted on the driver’s side of the trailer.

The WARP traffic controllers, stopped traffic along Bennett Street.

At this time, the dogger was stood on the road and next to the last PB37 panel in preparation to insert a tag line into a corking hole at the rear of the panel, once the panel had been suspended a few hundred millimetres from the trailer.

At this time, the dogger’s view of the footpath was obstructed due to the remaining panels on the trailer.

The Accident

Also at approximately 11am, two Perth Drywall Ceiling Fixers along with two other Labourers (Joseph McDermott and Gerard Bradley) attended the footpath area underneath the gantry, via the main entrance gate, to smoke.

There was no designated smoking area within the site so the footpath was a popular spot amongst workers for smoking.

One of the ceiling fixers noticed the truck sitting there and thought that the truck must have very recently arrived and that lifting had not started yet, as an exclusion zone had not been set up across the footpath (the week before the accident, upon leaving the site on his lunch break, he had observed a delivery of pre-cast concrete panels taking place via an A-frame trailer, and on that occasion there had been flagged bunting across the footpath at either end of the delivery area). The Ceiling Fixer could not see past the large concrete panels on the trailer so had no view of the dogger.

The four workers sat on the concrete strip footings either side of the footpath. The Ceiling Fixer sat across from the other three, being the other Perth Drywall Ceiling Fixer and Joseph McDermott and Gerard Bradley who were sitting on the strip footing closest to the road side of the footpath and adjacent to the passenger side of the panel trailer.

At that time, the Ceiling Fixer looked up upon hearing a person yell out “Oy, oy, oy”, and saw two of the concrete panels, situated side by side on the trailer, starting to move towards them.

As the Ceiling Fixer sprung up to get out of the way, he saw one of the panels collide with a gantry column, directly in front of himself and behind the other Ceiling Fixer, and realised that the other falling panel, that had not had a gantry column in its path, had continued falling to the footpath with Joseph McDermott and Gerard Bradley trapped beneath it.

Given the amendment to the original charge and the acceptance of the Accused’s subsequent plea of guilty to the lesser non-causative charge, the prosecution accepts that the Accused is not to be held responsible for, nor punished, with respect to the death of Mr Bradley and Mr McDermott. 

The Accused

On 25 November 2015 the Accused was the ABC Cranes Leading Hand Advanced Rigger at the site.

On 25 November 2015 the Accused’s qualifications included:

  1. A high risk work licence for advanced rigging;
  2. A statement of attainment from Construction Skills Training Centre for CPCCCM1007A ‘Carry Out Tilt-up Work Safely’; and
  3. A statement of attainment from Halifax Skilled Training for CPCCBC4022A ‘Supervise Tilt-up Work’.

The ABC Cranes Job Hazard Analysis document for the erection of concrete panels at the site on 25 November 2015 (JHA) was prepared by and signed by the Accused at 7:00am on 25 November 2015.

The JHA identifies certain potential hazards including panel collapse. Panel collapse specifically is identified as an initial critical risk in the JHA. The control measures prescribed in the JHA particular to the risk of panel collapse include ensuring an exclusion zone is installed at 1.5 times the height of the panels. The JHA provides that the person responsible for actioning the control measures for potential panel collapse is the ABC Supervisor. On 25 November 2015, this person was the Accused.

Prior to the accident, the Accused:

  1. was aware that the delivery site for the concrete panels was adjacent to a footpath;
  2. was aware that the road at the delivery site had a camber;
  3. was aware that the planned order of erection for the concrete panels was the three PB37 numbered panels followed by three PB38 numbered panels; and
  4. had checked the panels on the trailer, which were not individually restrained, and were positioned with the three PB37 panels on one side of the delivery trailer and the three PB38 panels on the other side of the trailer.

The Accused did not ensure:

  1. that the footpath directly adjacent to the delivery site was not set up as an exclusion zone at the time of the incident; or
  2. that the order of removing the pre-cast concrete panels from the trailer was such that the weight distribution of the panels on the trailer did not compromise the stability of the load.

Outcome Summary

The Accused entered a late guilty plea to an amended charge. The Magistrate fined the Accused $4,000.00 and ordered costs of $10,000.00.

Court Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Perth
Costs $10,000.00

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