A tragedy that happened more than six years ago on a construction site has been relived in court, bringing back the despair to family and in particular wife of the victim.
Chris Gear was 36 years when the accident took place in 2008 which led to his death. The man fell 26 storeys to his demise in a workplace incident which also took the life of his 52 year old co-worker Steve Sayer.
The 2 men plummeted to their deaths from the Meriton Pegasus Construction site after the swing stage they were standing on gave way.
The media this week reported on the court case which happened at the Southport Magistrates Court for the Sydney based company that was responsible for the construction project- Karimbla Construction Services.
The wife of one of the men, Myriam Gear described how “heartbreaking” it was to relive the ordeal in court. The gallery of the court was filled by the friends and family of the deceased workers, who even today still feel the deep void left by the loss of their loved ones.
She said outside the court, “It’s a little sad and a little heartbreaking but hopefully this kind of accident won’t happen again,” she said. It’s been really hard and I just can’t wait for it to be over.”
Hearing the woman’s testimony highlights how many lives are touched when accidents happen on construction sites. Families lose their breadwinners, children their parents, wives their husbands and many lose friends and family. Even one loss of life in a workplace accident is one too many, which is why this year health and safety authorities are calling for a prioritisation and commitment to workplace health and safety.
Karimbla Construction in Court over Worker Fatalities
Karimbla Construction Services, the construction company responsible for the construction of the highrise building, has pleaded guilty to the failure to discharge a Workplace Health and Safety Obligation.
The company received a $25,000 fine for the oversight which allowed the accident to occur. Although the company expressed their “sincere regret” over the incident, the fine seems light in comparison to the pain and suffering the accident has caused.
Magistrate Barbara Tynan said the company Allscaff Systems Pty Ltd provided the training on how to use the swing stage but the responsibility for that training was actually Karimbla’s. She went on to state:
“Investigation showed that induction training had occurred for a large number of workers but had not occurred for a small number of workers,” she said.
“That meant a small number of workers had not been inducted into the use of swing stages and or had not undertaken the relevant daily checks, thus there were gaps in Karimbla’s oversight and supervision of the swing stages.”
Although there was training available to workers, investigations were not able to discover whether the 2 men who had died, had received the necessary training. The magistrate also said that while the company did not completely disregard safety, there was an oversight which had led to the fatalities for which the company had to be held responsible.
She went on to explain:
“The breach in obligation did more than simply create a risk, it created a life-threatening situation.”
Karimbla was subsequently fined $25,000 and ordered to pay court and investigation costs of $5760.80. They were fortunate to escape a conviction.