A Brisbane construction company, Criscon, has been fined $405,000 over the deaths of two workers who were crushed by a concrete slab at Eagle Farm Racecourse in October 2016. The subcontractor in control of the site, Claudio D’Alessandro, is facing separate manslaughter charges under the criminal code. Criscon site manager Michael Crisci is also facing charges under the Work Health and Safety Act. Both men are due to face court later this month.
Ashley Morris, 34, and Humberto Leite, 55, died instantly when two concrete slabs toppled over at the worksite during the construction of a foul-water drainage tank. After the incident, it was revealed workers had walked off the job days earlier over safety concerns at the site. A sewage pipe was used as makeshift bracing for 14-tonne concrete panels that formed the walls for a foul-water drainage tank, the court heard on Tuesday.
The court was told the company nominated two employees to be safety coordinators – but didn’t tell them – and that a sewerage pipe was used as makeshift bracing for the four walls of the pit. “This was not a technical oversight, there was an obvious lack of bracing and no designated Criscon worker to identify that. The lack of escape route was worse than careless,” the magistrate said.
The man in control of the construction, Claudio D’Alessandro, is facing manslaughter charges brought by the Queensland Police Service under the Criminal Code. As a result, he is not facing charges under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 with respect to the deaths of Mr Morris and Mr Leite during construction of this tank.
However, a few days earlier, another foul water drainage tank had been installed using virtually the same system. Although no-one was injured during this tank’s construction, workers were exposed to the same risks that led to the two deaths in the second tank.
Mr D’Alessandro is now facing one reckless conduct charge with respect to construction of the first foul water drainage tank. This is a category 1 charge, and if found guilty, Mr D’Alessandro faces a maximum five years’ imprisonment or a fine of $300,000.
Criscon Pty Ltd was the principal contractor for the site and had overall responsibility for safety. It’s alleged the company was reckless in its risk assessments and management of the site by not enforcing compliance with safe work method statements, following codes of practice, and establishing clear exclusion zones.
Criscon is charged with two offences of reckless conduct arising from its management and control at the site and the construction of each of the foul water drainage tanks. If found guilty of this category 1 offence, the company is liable for fines of up to $3m.
Clemente Crisci was the director of Criscon Pty Ltd. As an officer of the company, he owed duties of due diligence, and faces two charges relating to this. It is alleged he should have done more to ensure Criscon complied with its work health and safety duties by acquiring and keeping up-to-date knowledge of safe work method statements and understanding the risks associated with the construction of the foul water drainage tanks. The allegation is that he failed to ensure Criscon used appropriate resources and processes to minimise the risks arising from the construction of each tank and that all workers involved were appropriately trained and experienced.
As site manager, Michael Crisci had responsibility to ensure contractors adhered to safe work practices. It is alleged he did not meet his duties and allowed workers to be placed at risk during the construction of both pits. He is facing two charges relating to duty of care.
The operator of the crane used to lift the massive concrete panels over the heads of the workers while they were in the pits, Collin James Young, is also facing two charges of not adhering to reasonable and accepted safe practices. Although he worked through instruction provided by Mr D’Alessandro, as an experienced and certified crane operator, it is alleged Mr Young should not have conducted lifting operations while workers were in the pits and that in doing so he did not adhere to reasonable and accepted safe practices.