07:23 am, Monday 28 July, 2008
Source: Perth Now
Companies owned by mining billionaire Andrew Forrest face fines of up to $7 million over the death of a worker and serious injuries sustained during a Pilbara cyclone.
Cyclone George, a category five storm, killed two workers and injured several others in March last year when 275km/h winds sent temporary accommodation buildings at a mining construction site flying and flattened the area.
The camp, 100km south of Port Hedland, was part of the iron ore miner’s $3 billion Pilbara mine and infrastructure development.
Two workers died on the Fortescue Metal Group’s railway construction camp – one of them a kitchenhand and the other a construction worker.
Craig Allan Raabe, 42, of Gympie in Queensland, died in hospital two days after the cyclone. He was an employee of a contractor to BGC Contracting, part of the Buckeridge Group of Companies, associated with colourful Perth businessman Len Buckeridge.
BGC faces four charges of failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment in relation to the death, and injuries to three employees.
Debra Till, 47, was killed while working for the property and maintenance services company Spotless P & F.
The WA government’s safety watchdog Worksafe has laid 49 charges against eight companies including Mr Forrest’s Fortescue and its wholly owned subsidiary Pilbara Infrastructure.
After a 16-month investigation Pilbara Infrastructure has been charged with 12 counts of failing to provide a safe working environment and five counts of failing to maintain the premises on employer-provided accommodation.
Fortescue has been charged with failing to provide and maintain a safe working environment causing serious harm to a contractor.
The company which constructed the accommodation units or “dongas”, Spunbrood, trading as NT Link, has refused to comment.
The designer of the dongas, Spotless Services Australia, faces eight charges over alleged failure to ensure the dongas could withstand a cyclone.
Spotless Services did not immediately return AAP’s calls.
Railway construction and maintenance services company Laing O’Rourke was also charged and would not comment.
All other charges, apart from those laid against WorleyParsons, Australia’s largest engineering firm, carry a maximum penalty of $400,000.
WorleyParsons faces a single charge of failing to provide a safe working environment, with a maximum penalty of $200,000.
FMG and Pilbara Infrastructure, civil construction company BGC and WorleyParsons have all said they will defend the charges against them.
It is understood Fortescue made confidential ex-gratia payments late last year to the families of two deceased.
Sydney man Desmond Baker, 74, also died in the cyclone when it struck his temporary hut at nearby Indi station.
WorkSafe says Mr Baker was not employed at the time and is not the subject of any of the charges.
OHS News Tip: Cyclone Safe Work Method Statements
Julia Alder - Do you have an OHS News Story -
Let us know