Company managers liable for employee deaths


A recent court case has highlighted the importance of worker safety, with a judge in the ACT ruling that company managers can be held liable for accidents in the workplace.

The decision came as a result of the death of a contractor in 2012. The worker was using a dump truck to unload gravel when the loader touched live power lines, electrocuting the man to death.

While the accident occurred in extreme circumstances – the wires were found to be at an unusually low height by the ACT Work Safety Commissioner – The incident still highlights the dangers that workers face every day when operating in hazardous environments.

The case is also the first to be tried under newly harmonised workplace safety legislation, which has introduced fines for senior managers as well as companies in the event of an accident at work.

For an category two offence like this one, the company faces a maximum fine of $1.5 million, while individual officers within the company face costs as high as $300,000 for a similar accident.

This means that, even though the contracting company has since gone into voluntary liquidation, individuals within the company are still liable for any damages.

This recent accident highlights that managers need to be more aware than ever about the potential dangers their staff are exposed to and must also take steps to address these issues before an accident occurs.

With construction and factory work two of the most dangerous areas for workers, these areas in particular need to get the processes right so that workplace injuries or deaths are kept to a minimum.

A large range of safety and materials handling equipment is available to help minimise injuries and increase productivity. This includes scissor lift tables, trolleys, platform step ladders and pallet trucks.