The incident happened in July 2013 on a bridge construction site that was part of Adelaide’s South Road Superway project. A labour-hire worker contracted to John Holland suffered leg and back injuries. “It was only through quick thinking and a degree of luck that the worker was not seriously injured or killed,” said Jennifer Taylor, chief executive officer of Australia’s federal work health and safety regulator, Comcare.

Staff were working under lights at a yard where sections of road bridge were being loaded onto trucks using two large portal cranes. One of the cranes collided with an elevated work platform, pushing the platform’s basket under the adjacent crane. The worker operating the platform tried to jump out as the basket started to buckle around him, but the lanyard of his harness held him in. He managed to lean out of the basket and avoid being crushed, and thankfully the crane was stopped in time.

Magistrate Paul Bennett handed down the penalty in the Adelaide Magistrates Court, convicting the construction company of three counts of failing in its duties under the Commonwealth Work Health & Safety Act. John Holland Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to the charges in March following an investigation by Comcare.

Taylor said John Holland failed to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employees, or provide a safe system of work for the job. “This was an accident waiting to happen, with inadequate communication and isolation measures in place and shortfalls in supervision, instruction and training,” sue said.

The penalty is the second against John Holland over work health and safety failures at the South Road project. In 2016 the company was convicted and fined about US$96,000 over a 2012 incident in which a large pipe snapped and fell from the road bridge into peak hour traffic.