Australia’s NT WorkSafe has charged Darwin shipping company Conlon Murphy, trading as Barge Express, and one of its workers, after the death of a deckhand.
On January 8, 2017, Daniel Bradshaw, a fly in-fly-out worker on the vessel Sammy Express, was found floating face down in the water between the vessel and wharf at Hudson Creek in the Northern Territory. Bradshaw had multiple fractures consistent with striking a solid object after falling from a height, and his toxicology report showed a very high level of blood alcohol content.
During its investigation, NT WorkSafe found no gangway was in place to allow safe access to the Sammy Express at the time of the incident. The vessel was Bradshaw’s place of accommodation during his four week shift, and to disembark, workers were required to jump across a gap onto a tire tied to the wharf as a fender before climbing onto the wharf.
Nicholas Mitchell, Master of the Sammy Express, faces a charge for failing to comply with health and safety duty. If found guilty, Barge Express will face a maximum penalty of A$1.5 million ($1.2 million) and Mitchell will face a maximum penalty of A$150,000 ($120,000).
The Maritime Union of Australia has welcomed the news that charges have been laid. However, Northern Territory Branch Secretary Thomas Mayor said more needs to be done to improve safety at work and called for industrial manslaughter laws to be introduced in the Northern Territory. “The safety of workers must be the most important priority for employers and they need to know there are serious consequences for them if they don’t provide a safe workplace,” Mayor said. “The Northern Territory is in a minority of state and territory jurisdictions that does not have industrial manslaughter legislation. Queensland recently passed industrial manslaughter laws and the new rules carry jail terms as potential penalties for employers who fail to provide safe workplaces.
“The MUA remains very concerned that WorkSafe NT is not taking strong enough action to investigate safety issues on worksites. We believe WorkSafe NT needs to be a lot more aggressive in ensuring that safety is the top priority for employers.”