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Multiple reckless conduct charges laid for 2016 Eagle Farm deaths

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Nine complaints and summonses have been issued to four people and one business for their alleged involvement in the deaths of two workers at Eagle Farm Racecourse on 6 October 2016.

The complaints were laid in the Brisbane Magistrates Court with the summonses having an expected return date of 19 January 2018.

Ashley Morris and Humberto Leite were killed while working around 14 tonne concrete panels which formed the walls for a foul water drainage tank. Using a crane, three precast concrete panels were lowered into an excavation at the infield construction site. The panels were attached to one another using temporary bracing to their top edges, forming a ‘U’ shape. A fourth panel was then lowered to complete the square.

While the last panel was being put in place it contacted the others, destabilising them. The bracing failed and one panel, then another fell into the pit. The two pit workers were able to avoid the first fallen panel but were crushed and killed when the second panel fell.

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 $600,000.

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.

With the matter now before the court, no further comment can be made.

Media contact: OIR Media 0478 33 22 00 or oirmedia@oir.qld.gov.au

Last updated
10 November 2017