Multiplex was fined $ 150,000 after the death of an employee at a UC Hospital workplace

Workshop of the University of Canberra Hospital on the night of 4 August 2016 after a crane was dropped, killing Herman Holtz, 62. Photo: ACT Police.

A major corporation was found “completely responsible” for failing to ensure a major safety assessment was made before a crane overturned on its workplace, killing an employee.

The company, Multiplex Constructions, was fined 10 percent of the total possible penalty – $ 150,000 – by Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker on Friday (November 12).

Herman Holtz, 62, died when a crane overturned carrying a generator and landed on him at the construction site of the University of Canberra Hospital in Bruce on 4 August 2016.

Multiplex was the main contractor.

According to the facts of the case against Multiplex, a 10.3-ton diesel-electric power generator had to be driven around the workshop to power a tower crane. On the afternoon of August 4, 2019, the company contacted RAR Cranes requesting a crane for the work.

A site inspector working for RAR Cranes, who initially recommended a much larger crane, contacted his office and arranged for a 25-ton crane to come to the site after discussions with Multiplex employees.

When Watts arrived with the crane, he did not make a site-specific risk assessment of the elevator, including checking the slope of the path he was going to take, which would have shown that the degree of the slope exceeded the crane’s capabilities. There were other issues, such as how the proposed elevator was outside the crane’s safe lifting capacity.

A counterweight was also fitted in the wrong direction resulting in weight monitoring inaccuracies.

Judge Walker said no Multiplex representative required that the site-specific risk assessment be completed prior to the fatal elevator. Failing to sign the document, Multiplex removed a level of protection at the site and a possible consequence of its actions was that the crane could be operated unsafely, she said. The crane was finally used unsafe before Mr Holtz was killed.


READ MORE: Multiplex did not require a safety form of crane driver before a man was killed at the UC Hospital workplace


Judge Walker said “avoiding the breakup was not difficult” because Multiplex controlled the workplace.

But she said the corporation’s guilty plea relates to the risk it created, not to the aftermath of Mr Holtz’s death.

She noted that while Multiplex was “fully responsible” for its part in failing to ensure the document was fulfilled, it was otherwise a “good corporate citizen”, was enterprising in analyzing the use of the crane and provided support to Mr. Holtz. family.

“I conclude that this offense is far from the worst case, but it is also not a trivial breach,” she said.

Multiplex pleaded guilty to failure to comply with a health and safety duty that would expose a person to the risk of death or serious injury and face a maximum fine of $ 1.5 million.

It was convicted and fined $ 150,000.

Multilevel managing director of operations Don Aroney said Mr Holtz was a much-loved employee and his death was felt deeply throughout the business.

“We acknowledged our part in the terrible event and sincerely apologize for those failures,” he said.

“We extend our sympathies to Herman’s family and remain committed to doing everything possible to ensure that such a tragedy is not repeated.”

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