31 March 2016

Director's Appeal increases fines

Two companies fined and convicted over the death of a workman at a building site have had the fines significantly increased to a total of $1.5 million following an appeal by the Director of Public Prosecutions John Champion S.C.

The prosecution followed the collapse of an incorrectly erected pile driving machine at a Southbank building site in May 2011, which killed an employee of Frankipile Australia Pty Ltd.

The companies, Frankipile Australia Pty Ltd (Frankipile) and Vibro-Pile (Aust) Pty Ltd (Vibro-Pile), were initially found guilty in the County Court of:

  • Failing to maintain systems of work that were so far as reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health
  • Failing to provide such information, instruction, training or supervision as was necessary to enable employees persons to perform their work in a way that was safe and without risks to health.

On 18 December 2014, Frankipile was fined an aggregate sum of $350,000 and Vibro-Pile was fined an aggregate sum of $100,000. The DPP lodged an appeal against the sentences on the basis they were manifestly inadequate.

In a judgment on 24 March 2016, the Court of Appeal upheld the appeal, and fined each company $750,000.

"The sentences imposed need to draw attention to the importance of workplace safety, and to send a message to employers that failure to eliminate or mitigate safety risks will attract significant punishment," the Court of Appeal said in its judgment.

The Court of Appeal said the sentence imposed in each case was below the range reasonably open to the judge.

In a cross appeal, the Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by Vibro-Pile against conviction, saying the risk of collapse was real and foreseeable.

For further information contact:

Lisa Walker

03 9603 7493
0400 494 962