Trucking company fined over ‘preventable’ deaths of Irish construction workers
Gerry Bradley (left) and Joe McDermott (right) were crushed to death by a concrete slab. (Supplied: Facebook)
A trucking company has been fined $160,000 over the deaths of two Irish workers who were crushed by falling concrete panels at an East Perth construction site.
Axedale Holdings pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to ensure the safety of Gerry Bradley, 27, and Joe McDermott, 24, who died while working on an apartment development near the corner of Bennett and Goderich streets in November 2015.
The two men were in an area used for smoking breaks, when concrete tilt panels, each weighing more three tonnes, were being unloaded from a trailer.
As one of the panels was being lifted by a crane, the remaining panels slipped and crashed onto the area where four men, including Mr Bradley and Mr McDermott, were sitting.
The other two men were not injured.
The family of Gerry Bradley visited Perth to seek answers after his death. (ABC News: Dave Weber)
Deputy Chief Magistrate, Elizabeth Woods, said the deaths were “preventable” because there were “simple and practical steps” the company could have taken to ensure the panels were secure.
Magistrate Woods said the panels, which should have been secured individually with straps and chains, were unloaded from only one side of the truck, which led to the vehicle being unstable, causing the panels to fall on the workers.
She said it was “unfortunate” that at the time, Axedale had been unaware of the necessary codes and standards that were in place, however she accepted that since the deaths it had adopted practical changes to cover the moving and unloading of panels, and had employed more staff to cover the areas that were deficient.
Magistrate Woods also accepted that the company was remorseful, saying it had entered an early plea of guilty and had no prior convictions.
Company ‘failures’ end in tragedy
In a statement, Worksafe Commissioner Ian Munns said the failures of the company had resulted in the tragic deaths of two young men.
“Axedale did not have the proper systems in place to restrain every panel until the crane safely took the weight. This was a gross underestimation of the terrible, foreseeable risks when moving concrete panels,” he said.
“Additionally, Axedale had the correct ratchets and straps available but did not use them due to the lack of safety systems and procedures.”
Tributes at the construction site in East Perth where two workers were killed by a falling panel of concrete. (ABC News: Laura Gartry)
Mr Munns said the case should be a reminder to the construction industry that safety laws and proper procedures must be strictly adhered to, in order to avoid the loss of lives and serious injuries.
Mr Munns said two other parties were charged over the deaths and pleaded not guilty.