Court finds company failed health and safety obligation, failed to carry out a risk assessment after workers raised concerns about risk at Townsville site.
Court finds company failed health and safety obligation, failed to carry out a risk assessment after workers raised concerns about risk at Townsville site.

Workplace death results in $300k penalty

A concrete supply company has been fined $300,000 after a worker was fatally crushed when a stack of concrete piles collapsed in 2017.

Holcim Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the Brisbane Magistrate's Court to failing to comply with their health and safety obligations.

Holcim Australia owns the Townsville Humes concrete pipe and precast site at Ingham Road.

The company was contracted to manufacture 240 precast concrete piles, each weighing 17 tonnes as part of the upgrade of the bridge crossing the Bohle River,

Townsville father Tony Schultze, 53, was killed when one of the 17-tonne piles collapsed from an unstable stack on April 20, 2017.

Mr Schultze's family were "broken" by the tragic accident. At the time of his death, wife, Narelle, took to social media to express her grief saying "I lost my best friend. The love of my life".

In a victim impact statement Narelle said the death had a "devastating impact" on the family.

A Workplace Health and Safety Queensland investigation found workers had raised concerns about the stacked piles twice and the company failed to conduct a site-specific risk assessment.

The court was told uneven ground, the use of softwood as dunnage under piles, the use of single pieces of dunnage to support multiple stacks and, work performed between pile stacks caused the risk of serious injury.

Magistrate Judith Daley said the company placed too much weight on its contractual duties and specification documents failed to carry out a risk assessment. This had "catastrophic consequences".

"Had they carried out the risk assessment, what could have been put in place was simple and inexpensive," she said.

"Unfortunately they didn't and it did result in the death of the worker."

Magistrate Daley said the company had two previous convictions, including a fatality on its record.

In sentencing Magistrate Daley she took into account the company's early plea of guilty, full co-operation with the investigation and immediate support for the Mr Schultze family.

She fined the company $300,000. No conviction was recorded.

Originally published as Workplace death results in $300k penalty


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